ValueSec Project

General information of the project

There is today a gradual shift to the adoption of the most cost-efficient solutions and advanced technologies, which allow governments and other public authorities to achieve more benefits for less expenditure, but this emphasis on cost-benefit analysis will increase in the future. Even though the impact of e.g. counter-terrorism measures on society is very significant, current assessment methods have failed to model the social, political and ethical costs of e.g. anti-terror measures and integrate them into standard assessments. This project will work exactly in the area of very often conflicting interests between the public decision maker, the technology providers, and the impact on citizens.

The VALUESEC project aims at correcting this weakness by providing public authorities with a decision support tool-set to analyze different aspects decision process and make decisions based on sound economic analysis.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts “security of person” as a fundamental human right, held by all, undeniable, and indivisible. Security, from this standpoint, cannot be subject to arbitration and cannot be procured or exchanged. This perspective on security has had significant consequences in national and international politics in recent years. It supported the emergence of a number of security subfields (food security, health security, environmental security, etc.) and granted legitimacy to a new generation of intergovernmental initiatives, such as “The Responsibility to Protect” [16]. The provision of security is caught between political needs to make practical and economic trade-offs on the one hand, and a common understanding that security is an intrinsic right and social need. This project breaks new ground by developing a methodological toolkit for linking quantitative assessments of security needs with qualitative assessments of moral, social and political values.

Decision makers must weigh many different factors (political, legal, social, cultural, moral, economic, etc.) in their assessment of threats and appropriate counter-measures. Some of these factors are only indirectly related to economic costs and benefits of security. For example, increased surveillance of public spaces might be a valid deterrent for terrorists and criminals but citizens might not be willing to give up a certain degree of privacy. International coordination and differences in risk perception and national/regional/personal preferences amplify these problems. Moreover, it has proven difficult to put concrete cost figures to “soft factors” such as the reduction of public fear.

The current economic situation contributes to greater attention on public spending for security. It is also important to clarify who benefits and who pays for the effects of security decisions. Homeland security spending cannot rise far in excess of the general growth in the economy – fundamentally because it is the overall economy (households and industry through taxes) which is financing homeland security spending. Therefore, homeland security spending has to be sustainable. This will be also reflected to the willingness to implement new more advanced – and expensive – technologies [4]. A further issue regarding the current economic crisis is in how far it can contribute to vulnerability or even instability of societies. Compared to e.g. terrorism or pure technology related risks, threat causes may shift significantly to factors of life like food security (see for example the 2007-2008 food riots, which overthrew the governments of Haiti and Madagascar [38]) and water shortages, pandemics with unbalanced treatment across the world, or consequences of climate change.

Effective and efficient cost-benefit-analysis must integrate features that are unique to the security domain:               

  • Cost structure analysis of consequences of security incidents.
  • Direct cost and returns of security related measures.
  • Multi-criteria decision making(MCDM).
  • Effectiveness and cost-efficiency analysis of security improvement measures and options.
  • Social costs of the impact of and public reaction to, security measures.
  • Legal and ethical costs of implementing or not implementing particular security measures.
  • Political value assessments related to security governance.

The methodological approach to the problem domain thus requires the close cooperation of fully-fledged expert economists, security & risk analysis experts and sociologists in order to adequately perceive security and risks, the economic impacts of both, risks and countermeasures, and of the societal impact of both.