Decision Support on Security Investment (DESSI)

Led by J. Peter Burgess
Jan 2011 - Dec 2013

In a complex and rapidly changing environment, decision-making on security investment requires highly adaptive methods and tools, including information from various societal dimensions. Security governance and the use of security technologies are issues, which, for example, relate to the level of trust and acceptance towards the investments made in science and technology. The DESSI project will thus develop a structured method for Decision Support on Security Investment, which takes into account the many and complex societal dimensions of security investment decisions. The method will be developed through a combination of foresight and technology assessment methodologies, threat, security and criminology research, and praxis in multi-criteria assessment methods in fields such as cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment and impact assessment.

The DESSI user will be able to compare alternative ways of counteracting a specific threat according to a set of dimensions, such as security gain, infringement upon fundamental rights, political significance as well as economic impacts. The assessment will be future-oriented by testing the investments against a set of future scenarios on possible changes in the societal context, thereby checking the robustness of decisions. An insight into the pros and cons of a certain investment will leave the final decision up to the user.

DESSI will include participatory procedures, in which users, stakeholders, experts, decision-makers and citizens contribute to the structured consultation process, and thereby ensuring a balanced and broadly accepted assessment.

PRIO’s role in the project is to identify social, political and ethical tradeoffs of security measures, as well as to support the development of future scenarios and a set of criteria that security decisions will be evaluated against. PRIO furthermore organizes and runs a test case.

Partner Institutions


  • Teknologiraadet – The Danish Board of Technology (DBT), Denmark (Project Coordinator)
  • Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA-OeAW), Austria
  • Teknologiraadet – The Norwegian Board of Technology (NBT), Norway
  • Verein für sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung und Beratung e.V. (SWFB), Germany