Exploring Impact Assessments: Insights from the Security Industry and Local Authorities 

In our pursuit of advanced impact assessment methodologies complemented by on-the-ground insights, TRANSCEND partners EOS and Efus conducted two surveys to (1) understand the utilization of impact assessment methods by solution providers and the broader security industry, and (2) explore how local authorities incorporate ethical, human rights, and societal considerations when using security technologies. In this article we delve into the process and outcomes of these surveys, shedding light on valuable insights gathered from both sectors.  

EOS Survey Sheds Light on the Use of Impact Assessment Methods in Security Technology  

In the first survey conducted by EOS, the focus was on understanding how impact assessment methods are used by solution providers in the security industry. This survey was specifically designed to delve into the intricacies of technology development, including aspects such as Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) and fields of application like AI and situational awareness. The survey aimed to unravel the extent to which the security industry employs impact assessment methods, the extent to which citizens are involved, and the challenges and successes in these areas. It sought, ultimately, to inform policy choices and research approaches in security technology.  

We reached out to a diverse range of organizations with the survey but received responses from only several. This was possibly due to the survey’s complex nature and the demanding schedules of those in the security technology sector. The findings, however, are insightful. 

Insights from the EOS Survey: Engagement, Technology Application, and Challenges  

The survey gleaned valuable insights. We received responses from those not involved in technology development to those involved in disaster resilience and combatting crime and terrorism. The technologies being developed are diverse, ranging from AI to Unmanned Vehicles (UV), with readiness levels across the spectrum. 

Interestingly, three entities are actively engaging citizens in order to build public trust and align technology with societal values. However, challenges like limited resources, technical complexities and citizen mistrust in security technology impede successful engagement 

All participants were knowledgeable about various impact assessment methods, with a range being used, from ethical to socio-economic assessments. Their implementation varied, driven by legal, scientific, and stakeholder demands. Some participants were unable to fully disclose information due to security and confidentiality concerns.  

This survey, led by EOS, thus provides a nuanced understanding of the complex landscape of technology development and citizen engagement in security. It emphasizes the need for a collaborative approach and ethical considerations in shaping effective security solutions.

Efus Survey Sheds Light on how Authorities Use Impact Assessments in the Context of Security Technology  

In parallel to the EOS survey, Efus conducted a survey focusing on local authorities’ perspectives on impact assessments. The primary objective was to gain insights into how local authorities perceive and incorporate impact assessment methodologies in the context of technological security-related initiatives and policies. The survey aimed to understand the challenges faced by local authorities, their level of awareness regarding impact assessments, and the extent to which they involve citizens in decision-making processes related to technological security. The Efus survey targeted a diverse range of local authorities, encompassing different sizes of municipalities and urban areas. The responses provided a rich tapestry of perspectives, shedding light on the complexities faced by local authorities in navigating security challenges while considering ethical, human rights, and societal impacts.  

Insights from the Efus Survey: Decision-Making Processes, Diversity in Security Technology Adoption, Operational Challenges  

The analysis of Efus survey responses reveals a complex panorama of practices and considerations related to the adoption of security technologies within local and regional authorities. A major observation arises from the pivotal role of decision-makers within these entities, where nine out of fourteen participants identified themselves as “decision-makers” in the choice and use of security technologies. This observation suggests a centralisation of decision-making processes within these institutions, highlighting the importance of understanding internal dynamics influencing choices around security technology.  

Another significant aspect of the survey results concerns the security technologies themselves, with a prevalence of systems such as surveillance cameras, drones, and sensors, while AI and biometrics are less frequently used. This disparity underscores the need to understand the specific preferences and priorities of local and regional authorities in technological security.  

Furthermore, the study highlights major obstacles faced by these actors in their adoption and use of security technologies. Budget constraints and a lack of human resources emerge as major hindrances, emphasizing the need for informed and strategic decision-making in the face of significant operational challenges. 

Ethical, legal, and societal considerations also vary among respondents, shedding light on the diversity of approaches adopted by local and regional authorities. While some actors consider ethical aspects in their technological choices, others prioritize human rights. This divergence raises important questions about the fundamental values that guide the decisions of these entities. 

Finally, citizen participation in the decision-making process related to security technologies emerges as a crucial aspect. While half of the participants mention involving citizens, various challenges such as a lack of resources and distrust in technology are identified, in parallel to the findings of EOS’s survey. Again, these results suggest the need for more inclusive and transparent approaches to enhance public trust in the use of security technologies.  

In summary, the analysis of Efus survey results reveals a complex landscape where choices in technological security are shaped by diverse considerations and tangible operational challenges. These insights provide a solid foundation for deeper reflections and targeted actions aimed at improving security practices at the local and regional levels.  

To read more about these surveys, their results and their implications, please read our report “State of the Art in ethical, human rights and societal impact assessments”. To get involved with the TRANSCEND project, you can join our Network. To stay up-to-date with our latest news, you can subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. If you’d like to get in touch with us – and we would love to hear from you – please email contact@transcend-project.eu.