Introducing TRANSCEND: Transdisciplinary methods for societal impact assessment and impact creation for security research technologies

TRANSCEND is a collaborative effort between eight project partners*. The overarching goal of the project is to enable the development of responsible, ethically acceptable and socially desirable security technologies, and to mitigate any socio-negative impacts they may have.

What is the challenge TRANSCEND aims to address?

The development and deployment of security technologies is intended to benefit citizens and society, from increasing the safety of members of the general public to making societies more resilient to ever-increasing and fast-evolving threats ranging from terrorism to pandemics. However, security technologies have the capability to lead to socio-negative outcomes, such as reinforcing existing power imbalances and infringing on human rights.

Civil society is becoming increasingly aware of both the potential benefits and harms of security technologies yet is rarely involved in their development and deployment. This means that the concerns of the very people affected most by this technology are not fully known or addressed during security research and development. The Horizon Europe funded TRANSCEND project aims to tackle this issue by giving a voice to civil society (i.e., individuals and organisations independent of government) before and during the development process, through developing new impact assessment methodologies.

How will TRANSCEND improve civil society engagement in the development of security technologies?

The TRANSCEND team are developing a TRANSCEND Framework which will present guidelines to security technology developers on how to design and structure meaningful engagement with civil society. The Framework will address legal, ethical, socio-economic, gender, cultural, vulnerability and governance aspects of security technology development, with the aim of facilitating a more diverse, fair and inclusive research and development process. With a fairer and more inclusive development process, the security technology itself should then be fairer, more desirable and more responsible for society as a whole.

A key part of the TRANSCEND Framework is the creation of the TRANSCEND Toolbox of Methods. This Toolbox will provide policymakers, social scientists, first responders and developers of security technologies with quick access to the tools they need to engage members of civil society in security research. This means that members of civil society are listened to and have their concerns addressed, but also that civil society has an active and creative role in the development process. Essentially, the Toolbox will enable security technology developers to give members of civil society ‘a seat at the table’, which is of vital importance when the decisions made at that table often affect civil society the most.

What’s happening at the moment?

TRANSCEND researchers are currently designing the Toolbox of Methods and the Framework. Once the prototype versions of these have been created, they will be rigorously tested in applied contexts where a diverse array of organisations – from academia, industry, government and civil society – will try them out. These testing sites will involve security research and development in cybersecurity, disaster response, crime and terrorism, and border crossing contexts. Data from these pilot tests will allow the TRANSCEND team to iteratively improve the Toolbox and Framework for real-world application.

Watch this space for future blog posts on how TRANSCEND is progressing, and for deeper insights and explanations about the issues the project aims to address, and feel free to email us at if you would like to communicate further.

* The eight project partners working on TRANSCEND are: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, Fraunhofer , European Organisation for Security, European Forum for Urban Security, Austrian Red Cross, Peace Research Institute Oslo, Code for All, Trilateral Research Ltd.