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The role of society in Horizon Europe’s civil security projects

funding opportunities of horizon europe
Jorge Lorente

Jorge Lorente

Senior Consultant

Horizon Europe programme provides the perfect framework for international collaboration and cooperation among different types of entities, and Cluster 3 (Civil Security for Society) is not an exception. In fact, most of security R&D projects propose collaborative approaches among end-users (first responders, practitioners), academia, research organisations and security industry to develop solutions for enhancing civil security and benefit the society.

However, although the importance of Social Science and Humanities (SSH) has grown considerably in the entire Horizon Europe programme, under cluster 3 subprogramme, it is particularly interesting to seek for the active engagement of civil society in all the project stages, thus becoming not only the receivers of security information and technology but also participating in the co-design and co-creation of security solutions and demonstration pilots.

Indeed, to reach this level of engagement of civil society, it is recommendable to join organisations representing citizens, local communities and Civil Society Organisations to the consortium to secure the active involvement of citizens in the project and Social Science and Humanities experts to better integrate social innovation into the civil security research. To achieve such a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach of civil society with security-related entities may lead the project to improve the quality of results, better assess the societal impact of the project or even building public trust and confidence in new security solutions

Which roles could they tackle?

The concrete roles of these kind of entities will depend on the particularities of the proposal, which at the same time are conditioned by the requirements and outcomes defined at the topic level and the expected impacts defined at the destination to which the topic belongs. Yet, relevant contributions can be provided at different project stages such as:

  • Technology development. Integrating social context knowledge and SSH know-how in the first stages of the project (analysis of needs and definition of technology requirements) may improve the accuracy and relevance of product requirements and, by consequence, facilitate the subsequent uptake of such technologies from First Responders. Likewise, proposals may empower citizens and local communities giving them an active role in co-design and co-creation of security solutions.

The added value of this approach lays on the improvement of social acceptance of security technologies/solutions, awareness raising and commitment. A relevant example for the application of this approach comes from the SOTERIA project (uSer-friendly digiTal sEcured peRsonal data and prIvacy plAtform), which aims at developing data protection and controlling tools leveraging a citizen-driven and citizen-centric design in order to allow everyone, whatever their gender, age or ICT skills, to fully protect and control his/her personal data.

  • Technology validation. The involvement of citizens in demonstration exercises are of upmost interest in projects facing preparedness and response towards all kind of disaster and emergency events. This involvement not only gives added value to the exercises but also may contribute to shape best practices and guidelines, as well as to raise awareness and identify untackled issues/operative needs.

A relevant example of this approach comes from the TRILLION project (TRusted, CItizen – LEA coILaboratIon over sOcial Networks) which developed a fully-fledged platform to support the extensive collaboration between citizens and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to motivate them to work together not only in the on-going crisis, but also in the early identification and prevention of emerging risks. TRILLION consortium and supporting organisations included 6 citizen communities, that participated in extensive trials through pilots, early validations and serious game-based training across Italy, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, involving close to 2.000 citizens and law enforcement agencies representatives.

  • Communication, education, and training. Education and training aspects as well as information sharing and awareness raising of the citizens are important in many security areas included in the 6 destinations of Cluster 3. Partners with SSH expertise and/or representing citizens could make the difference to properly assess communication, education, and trainings in areas such as emerging cyber threats; disaster and crisis-related emergencies in order to manage panic, confusion and threats of disinformation; domestic and sexual violence or even in the increasing online radicalisation through gaming culture.

The added value of these actions lays on the increase in both awareness and preparedness of citizens towards certain events such as disaster-crisis events, potentially making them active subject of the mitigation and recovery measures (e.g. “spontaneous volunteers”), or towards malevolent behaviours, minimizing the impacts on individuals (both online and offline). A relevant example of the latter approach is provided by the RAYUELA project (Empowering And Educating Young People For The Internet By Playing), where Zabala Innovation is an active partner, aiming at better understand the drivers and human factors affecting certain relevant ways of cybercriminality, as well as at empowering and educating young people (children and teenagers primarily) in the benefits, risks and threats intrinsically linked to the use of the Internet by playing, thus preventing and mitigating cybercriminal behaviour.

  • Impact maximisation. The active citizens’ and community engagement (through entities in the consortium) and appropriate social innovation (through new tools, methodologies, and approaches) lead to increase the social impact of new security technologies.

This approach provides added value in terms of better definition of the appropriate steps towards greater social impact, building public trust and acting as drivers of pursued social changes. A relevant example of this approach is provided by the INSPEC2T project (Inspiring CitizeNS Participation for Enhanced Community PoliCing AcTions), which bases its conceptual foundations on EU crime prevention and Member States specific Internal Security Policies, validated research results and best practices from cooperation between police and local, regional and national communities.

Funding opportunities of Horizon Europe

As we have analysed, in many topics of all the destinations of Cluster 3, engaging citizens, and communities and SSH experts in the project consortium could make a difference towards the other competing projects. Indeed, its importance may go beyond the recommendation and even be an eligibility requirement for some topics of certain destinations, mainly in Disaster Resilience Society (DRS) and Fighting against Crim and Terrorism (FCT).

For example, in the work programme for 2021-2022 (the one currently available), there are specific topics that include the collaboration with organisations representing citizens and local communities as an eligibility condition. For the next call closing on November 23, 2022, topics CL3-2022-DRS-01-01 and CL3-2022-DRS-01-04 explicitly require the engagement of at least two organisations representing citizens or local communities in the consortium. On top of that, over 20 topics among all destinations of Cluster 3 recommend the involvement of SSH expert institutions in the consortium to achieve effective contribution of SSH disciplines.

So, if you are an entity representing citizens, a local community or a social scientist who is interested in getting involved in civil security research, we are here to help. You can use our tool Kaila to search for main funding opportunities, projects or innovators in the security sector.

Indeed, if you are new to the Civil Security for Society work programme, at Zabala Innovation we can provide you practical help and advice. Reach out to us to discover more!

Expert person

Jorge Lorente
Jorge Lorente

Valencia Office

Senior Consultant