Project Details


A substantial and prestigious research grant funded by RCUK (ESRC, AHRC) and the Ministry of Defence Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) under the Global Uncertainties programme, Science and Security Call.
The grant was awarded for £235,568 (FEC) over 18 months (March 2013 - August 2014).
I am PI on this project, involving a further 6 CIs from three QUB schools (PISP, Sociology, and ECIT). The funding covers 30% of my time, 20% for each of 4 CIs, and 7.5% for two ECIT CIs. It therefore makes a very strong contribution to research income of the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy and to other QUB schools.
The project is producing new inter-disciplinary knowledge on the development of border security technologies. It focusses on tracing risks and uncertainties in security technologies through an in depth analysis of the HANDHOLD project.
The project will produce numerous academic peer-reviewed articles in several fields: International Relations and Security Studies; Criminology; Sociology of Science; and Science/Engineering.
We are working closely with governments (especially DSTL), border and customs agencies, industry, and academic research centres to ensure that the project has strong impact. This will be further facilitated by two major stakeholder and government workshops and reports at the end of the project.
The project contributes highly novel empirical and theoretical insights of wide interest among numerous academic fields and government and industry bodies.

Layman's description

This research maps and analyses how new security technologies are developed in practice through inter-disciplinary collaborative research between social scientists and engineers. It will contribute to cross-disciplinary and applied knowledge about the drivers and challenges of science and technology in relation to defence and security needs. It studies the HANDHOLD project (an integrated portable Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive detection device) that involves nine partners including engineering companies, academics, and end-users from five EU countries. This project explores how these different contexts affect the management of risk and uncertainty in the development of security technologies. It examines how different understandings of risk and security interact in processes of technology development, how risks and uncertainties are negotiated and managed, and how the risk of failure and the security context shape the complex creative enterprise of technology development. The methods employed include analysis of key documents; observation of scientists and engineers in action, and interviews with key participants in different agencies. The research will produce a number of reports and workshops for government and other stakeholders as well as high quality academic publications. It will offer important lessons for technology development, implementation, and policy making, as well as for academic knowledge.
Effective start/end date01/08/201230/09/2014


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