Gemeentelijke toekomstscenario’s voor digitale veiligheid
Gemeentelijke toekomstscenario’s voor digitale veiligheid

Municipal future scenarios for cybersafety

Project leader
dr. Willem Bantema
March 2021 - September 2021

Municipalities are increasingly confronted with digitalisation and are taking a position in the field of digital safety. Most of the projects currently being carried out are aimed at supporting municipalities by offering them action perspectives on current digital issues. The VNG (Association of Dutch municipalities) has created a need to gain insight into possible future problems related to digital safety (scenarios) so that municipalities can prepare themselves in advance. The Cybersafety research group helps with this issue.

What is the motivation for the project?

The role of municipalities in ensuring digital safety in society is increasing. Think of the prevention of digital fraud, sexting and extortion and of the option that companies and public facilities are disrupted by, for example, a hack. Disruptions to public order on the street are also regularly spurred on by the digital world. Citizens are entitled to a local government that continues to take the lead in social order and safety in the digital world: a local government that knows what is going on and knows how to act when order or safety is at stake.
What problem does the project solve?

The VNG feels the need for insight into possible future developments in the area of digital safety so that they can already be anticipated. In addition, the desire has been expressed to work with future scenarios. The future scenarios connect the present and the future and contribute to action perspectives from the present.

This research will lead to a compilation of administrative instruments that are effectively used in the approach to digital incidents and security issues. In doing so, an action perspective will be developed for dealing with digital (in)security, primarily from the 'now'. This survey may show that something is still missing in the digital domain for an effective approach. With action perspectives, administrators can better prepare themselves for digital safety problems in the near and distant future.

Project team

Cybersafety research group

  • Willem Bantema
  • Wouter Stol

Project approach

Based on the social task of a municipality, we are currently exploring in various regions which roles and responsibilities a manager has in the approach to digital safety issues and we are looking at which administrative powers can be deployed. This is complex, partly because digital disruptions and incidents are constantly changing and often have social implications, such as recent unrest about Corona measures, #ikdoenietmeermee and 5G protests. The social media act as an accelerator in polarisation or dissemination of disinformation with resulting social unrest. The future scenarios are based on recent Dutch research in the relevant domain and on policy documents, supplemented by several short open interviews (by telephone) with relevant parties, such as the VNG, the CCV, security regions, police and municipalities. The available budget includes room for several expert interviews and an expert meeting with municipalities/VNG. The scenarios are mainly based on the insights gained by the researchers over the past five years in research and knowledge of the literature on the municipal digital security domain and in the field of law enforcement and technology. The expert interviews serve to validate and supplement the outlined scenarios and contribute to the translation of scenarios to current municipal practice.

Proceeds and results

We reason from broad social developments, not from specific technological possibilities of the moment (and hypes). An example of a development that can lead to a scenario is the theme of the increased information and organisation capacity of citizens and companies. As a result, the government increasingly faces anonymous, well-organised and information-rich actors or 'movements'. Because of this, the connection between initiator and action (actions online) becomes more diffuse and it becomes difficult to assign responsibility. And this while our legal system is based on individual responsibilities. We want to translate these kinds of developments into administrative possibilities from the present (and a change strategy).

Project partners

  •     Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten (Association of Dutch Municipalities)
Sustainable Development Goals

This project contributes to...