Critical Success Factors for Smart Safety & Security Initiatives

27 Jun 2019
Author: HSD Foundation

Recent research specifies several critical success and failure factors when implementing Smart City initiatives to improve urban security. Based on a comparative case study of Smart Safety & Security Initiatives in The Netherlands, the report shows that involving a problem owner early on and fostering communication and cooperation between stakeholders are among the critical factors to achieve success.


The comparative case study research follows the recently released signalling report Smart Cities en Stedelijke Veiligheid (in Dutch). In the Hague, citizens-project BART! and Living Lab Integral Area Protection in the International Zone were among the cases, but also Smart Mobility Living Lab in Helmond, the ‘Inbraakvoorspeller’ in Utrecht and City Alerts in Amsterdam participated in the research. Each initiative provides a positive contribution to the urban security in its own city.


Critical Success Factors
The research report shows that Smart City initiatives rarely formulate concrete criteria for success. This is attributed to the difficulty of measuring the impact of the initiative on the level of urban security. Nevertheless, several initiatives still regard it as important to formulate criteria but caution to not get too hung up on formal measurements. The level of satisfaction from stakeholders is often chosen as a good alternative.


Involving a problem owner and continuous communication and cooperation between stakeholders were both highlighted as critically important for the initiative’s success. This is because the input from stakeholders define the direction of – and support for - the initiative while continuous interaction helps to keep in line with developing needs, requirements and technological advancements. To achieve this for instance, Living Lab International Zone is building a shared communication platform that helps to distribute important information to and from its key stakeholders.


Challenges and Failure Factors
Cybersecurity of technology and (related) questions about privacy continue to be a point of attention for many. One participant indicated that municipalities wish to see more certification and protocols which safeguard the use and testing of Smart City technology.


Perhaps surprisingly however, the participants in the research indicated that privacy should extend beyond what is legally required because it also concerns a matter of ethical responsibility. The Utrecht Data School developed The Ethical Data Assistant to specifically address questions related to the collection, use and distribution of data. The research indicates that organising sustained financing of the smart city initiatives remains among the most significant challenges smart city decision makers face. In particular, making a viable business case for Living Labs is deemed to be a major difficulty.


A lack of policy supporting the implementation of Smart City initiatives was revealed as a general challenge of innovation. Nevertheless, the participants highlighted that this should not prevent cities from initiating Smart City initiatives. In several cases, Smart City initiatives were shown to positively contribute to the formulation of policy in relation the governance and management of safety & security, but also in urban development and economy.


The research was conducted by Jesse Manning under supervision of HSD Office for his bachelor thesis Safety & Security Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. It is used to support HSD’s contribution to and involvement with safety and security in smart cities (see our smart cities programme).

HSD Partners involved