Security and Innovation Working Group – Webconferences

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Security and Innovation
Working Group

Webconferences: Technologies used for urban security

light bulbIn 2018, Efus set up a working group on Security & Innovation that seeks to harness the opportunities of smart and hyper connected cities to improve crime prevention and urban security. The purpose is to share prospective reflections and insights on innovative strategies and technologies that can be applied to urban security.
Given that new technologies are bound to rapidly expand it is particularly important that local authorities exchange on their advantages and limitations applied to their specific local context and local population’s needs while ensuring that fundamental freedoms are respected. In order to promote the exchange of experiences amongst peers, Efus is launching  a new series of web conferences on new technologies in urban security. 

Session 1
Predictive Policing – A tool to forecast crime or to support decision making?

  • 25 June, 11:00 CEST

security-265130_640Intelligence-led policing has been employed before the advent of artificial intelligence and big data. However, developments in computing power and the digitization of information have greatly facilitated access to large amounts of data. This enables law enforcement agencies to speed up the process of collecting and analysing data and develop predictive policing methods. Using data and statistical methods allows to “forecast” the probability of crime, both in terms of potential crime locations and individuals that might be involved in criminal activities – as victims or as perpetrators.

Predictive policing methods, which some criticize as decision-making tools based on limited data and potential machine bias, have been used for a while now in the United States. In Europe, they are still relatively new. For instance, in Germany, six federal states have applied them in different ways since 2014 and the Netherlands have implemented predictive policing at national level since 2017. It seems that until now, the main impact has been linked to internal processes within Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and a better understanding of how data are selected and used. 

logo_colors-1024x486At a time when trust in the police is strained by racial profiling and disproportionate use of force, it is important to understand what type of predictive policing methods are being and can be used in Europe and how ethical concerns are addressed. In the framework of the EU’s Cutting Crime Impact (CCI) project, researchers have reviewed the state of the art of predictive policing in EU countries and analysed its ethical, legal and social impacts. In our upcoming webconferences, we invite you to learn about the uses of predictive policing in Europe from the CCI project research experience and exchange on  the method’s effectiveness and implications. More specifically, we will look at questions such as:

  • What type of predictive policing methodsotably in terms of explicit and implicit bias in data – be mitigated?


  • Maximilian Querbach, LKA – State Office of Criminal Investigation of Lower Saxony
  • Dr. Oskar Gstrein, University of Groningen
  • Guenter Okon, Institute for Pattern Based Forecasting (IfmPt), Precobs-Predictive Policing made in Germany

Session 2
Civic technologies for urban security: what cooperation between citizens, police and local authorities?

  • 21 July, 11:00 CEST

The concept of civic technology refers to the use of technology to facilitate citizen participation in various government tasks with the aim of improving the quality of public services. This can be done through websites, online platforms and mobile applications. Civic technology can be used to inform citizens, facilitate access to services, but also to directly involve them in policy making and implementation.

In the field of public security, citizens are often involved through social media in their various forms: platforms, networks, applications or messaging services. Citizen participation is particularly visible at the local level, for example when community police officers collect information by engaging with local residents. It is often a bottom-up process in which citizens take the initiative. They create online platforms to facilitate access to information about some aspects of their city’s security. They collect and analyse data, organise neighbourhood surveillance, and sometimes go so far as directly investigating crimes at local and even international level. Sometimes, they use social media to establish police watchdogs, promote transparency and denounce police misconduct.

The use of these kinds of platforms can have both a positive and negative impact on urban security. It can improve communication between security stakeholders and citizens and thus help to better tailor responses to the situation on the ground, but it can also blur the line between legitimate and self-proclaimed security actors. This in turn increases the risk of privacy breach and vigilantism, which can have negative effects on social cohesion.

The following questions will be discussed:

  • What forms of civic technology in urban security exist in European cities?
  • What are the benefits and risks of civic technology ?
  • Does it contribute to co-producing  public security? Are crime prevention stakeholders involved?
  • How to prevent the risks posed by vigilantism?


  • Daniel Trottier, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Media & Communication, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication TBC

Session 3
Facial Recognition Technology – What impact on citizens’ perception of security?

  • 18 September 2020, 11:00 CEST

    Facial recognition is arguably one of the most controversial and yet ubiquitous applications of Artificial Intelligence based on computer vision algorithms. It can be integrated into a whole panoply of existing technologies and connected to other functionalities. Facial recognition is commonly used for surveillance in public spaces and for tracking people. In Europe, facial recognition is largely used in an experimental way, predominantly in transport and for public space surveillance. Italy uses it to measure the flow of passengers at Rome’s Fiumicino airport while a number of French airports, including Charles de Gaulle in Paris, have installed the “Parafe” automated passport verification system. A number of European cities have experimented with facial recognition technology in public spaces. During the 2019 Carnival in Nice (FR), the municipality and the local police tested a facial recognition system in one area of the festival grounds.

    The European Cutting Crime Impact (CCI) project focuses part of its research on the measurement and mitigation of feelings of insecurity and crime prevention through urban design and planning (CP-UDP). One issue is that satisfying one group may result in excluding another. AI-based surveillance technologies might satisfy some people and improve their perception of security but other groups might perceive them as a sign they are unwelcome in certain public spaces, or that they infringe on individual freedoms. The research also found that increased surveillance might have a similar effect as walls or barbed wire, which have shown to increase feelings of insecurity (Van Soomeren, Davey and Wootton, 2019).

    The violation of fundamental rights, a lack of transparency, the risk of mass surveillance and of racial discrimination are recurring arguments in the ongoing conversation about facial recognition. Efus will be organising a web conference to exchange on these topics on 18 September at 11am. We will look at how facial recognition is currently used in Europe and its implications for fundamental rights. The conference will address the following issues:

    • To what extent are facial recognition technologies currently used in European cities?
    • Has there been increased backlash or resistance against these technologies because of their impact on individual freedoms and fundamental rights?
    • What are the main challenges for local authorities in using facial recognition?
    • How do these technologies impact people’s perception of security?
    • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of the use of  facial recognition softwares by local security actors?
    • How can regulations be adapted to ensure efficient and proper use of this technology, in particular in regards to fundamental rights?


>> Find the working group on EfusNetwork here (members only)

>> Pauline Lesch, programme manager,
>> Pilar de la Torre, programme manager,

Flag_of_Europe.svgThe project CCI is financed 100% by the Horizon 2020 Security Research Programme of the European Commission