Security toolkits and serious games

  • The Hostile reconnaissance toolkit (developed with University of the Arts London, and University of Huddersfield)
  • The Terrorism/ crime at complex stations toolkit (developed with University of Huddersfield). The glossary developed for the project is here.

Security toolkits

If carefully designed and tested, toolkits can take a huge mental load from the user, by guiding them to focus on a sequence of steps, one at a time, customised to the inputs they have already made up to that point regarding scope of problem, context etc. They can also provide a range of drop-down solutions and example responses at each step.

Hostile reconnaissance toolkit

A presentation on the toolkit describing the rationale and showing the main run-through is here:

Below are some sample slides from this presentation, illustrating some of the steps in the toolkit.

The slide below shows the basic action sequence that users follow as they work through the toolkit:

The slide below, following the perpetrator’s movement script, asks the user to enter characteristics of different parts of their site, that make reconnaissance easier. Illustrative entries are provided in each cell, which users can overwrite with their own input:

The image below shows how the toolkit user, having come up with one or more candidate intervention methods against hostile reconnaissance, is guided to shift from ‘think security’ to ‘think designer’. This means selecting and/or modifying the ‘raw’ interventions so they not only boost security, but also avoid, or at least minimise, undesired side effects such as social exclusion, interfering with business, and user-unfriendliness.

Terrorism and crime at complex stations toolkit

The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the EU (DG-MOVE) contracted the Applied Criminology and Policing Group of the University of Huddersfield to develop, initially, an outline toolkit for preventing and responding to terrorist attacks at complex, multi-modal train stations (those with metro, bus and other connections). This was to be based on a review of academic literature, grey literature, interviews with security managers and site visits across the EU.

One of the challenges was the sheer number of possibilities to handle – around 12 attack methods x 12 target types x 12 weapon types. The other was how to supply the best possible guidance in the absence of terrorism-specific evaluations of what-works. Our approach relied heavily on transfer of tested theoretical principles from situational crime prevention.

Phase 1 – including outline toolkit

A presentation on the outline toolkit is here:

Below are some sample slides from this presentation, illustrating the thinking and research behind the toolkit.

The slide below shows the underlying logic of Phase 1 of the toolkit project. In the absence of a body of knowledge derived from rigorous ‘what works’ evaluations of counter-terrorist interventions, the team developed a ‘conceptual attack framework’. This brought together what was known from a range of ‘softer’ sources, including a literature review, fieldwork visual audits of stations and interviews with station security staff, and combined this with the transfer of tested principles from situational crime prevention. The project deliverables included a ‘security action knowledge tree’, organising what the sources revealed, and an outline, text-based toolkit, which was to form the basis of the interactive version in Phase 2:

The slide below shows the evidence quality assessment scale that the team developed, to handle findings that ranged from rigorous (by far the minority of cases) to the weak; and those practices to avoid. (An equivalent scale was developed for the fieldwork evidence.) It was judged necessary to include the weaker sources, with due caution, because users cannot wait for the research shopping list to be complete, but have to have access to the best knowledge available at the time:

The slide below shows how the findings of the review were extracted from the text of the report as ‘one-liners’ and organised on the security action knowledge tree part of the Conceptual Attack Framework (CAF). This enabled ‘like findings to be put with like’. Each finding came with a reference link to its full entry in the main report, and its evidence equality assessment rating (see previous slide):

The slide below summarises the overall journey of users in working through the toolkit, in terms of leading them through a sequence of different perspectives:

The slide below shows the outline, or ‘indicative’, toolkit as delivered from Phase 1 of the project. Much of the detail is compressed into collapsed boxes. It shows the relationship with the 5Is process:

Phase 2 – interactive toolkit

The outline toolkit developed in Phase 1 of the project formed the starting point for developing the interactive version in Phase 2. This presentation describes the process and takes the viewer through the toolkit with a worked example:

The slide below shows the streamlined user action sequence developed for Phase 2 – the interactive toolkit:

Below are some examples of the interactive screens. Users can upload a map of their site into the toolkit and select one zone at a time to consider, for one kind of attack method – in this case, the main foyer, and hostile vehicle ramming. The toolkit customises the rest of the sequence to this method.

The slide below illustrates the switch from ‘think perpetrator’ to ‘think environment’. Here, users are asked to identify ‘risk attributes’ of the zone, that make the above-identified actions more likely, that is, more rewarding, less risky and less effort for the offender:

The slide below shows how users of the toolkit are guided to select security actions to reduce the risk attributes in the zone and counter the offenders’ actions, from a menu customised to those actions, previously identified by the users:

The slide below shows a summary of a single session, in which the toolkit user focuses on one attack type (e.g. terrorism), one method (e.g. hostile vehicle ramming) and one zone (e.g. main foyer). (The session is repeated for different attack types and methods, and different zones.) The summary amounts to an action list for the security staff and senior management at the station:

Glossary for terrorism/crime at complex stations toolkit
Further information on the terrorism/crime at complex stations toolkit

Full project team (University of Huddersfield): Rachel Armitage, James Bray, Kris Christmann, Paul Ekblom, Alex Hirschfield, Eloise Keating, Leanne Monchuk, Andrew Newton, Simon Parkinson, Michelle Rogerson and Daiyaan Shreef.

Serious game: teaching the Conjunction of Criminal Opportunity Framework

Serious games can help practitioners learn complex/dynamic approaches to crime and other problems. They can also be engaging and motivating, especially if they allow for multiple players.

The toolkit screen below asks participants to think whether their proposed interventions could influence other causes, beyond the one that they originally designed it for. This reflects the many-to-many relationships between intervention methods, intervention principles and causes:

An example of an assessment screen is below. Here participants are asked to assess how interventions will affect success estimations by offenders:

The final score screen is below. In the upper part of the screen are score and ranking. When a participant hovers with the mouse over an individual assessment of an idea, a pop-up with the comments given to this assessment appears:

Video run-through and working version of game