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Department of Geography, Durham University, 21-22 November 2013

Keynote speakers (tbc): Prof. Pat O’Malley (Sydney)   Prof. Marieke de Goede (Amsterdam)   Prof. Rita Raley (UCSB)

The Securing against Future Events project is organizing a two-day conference on the forms and techniques of calculation that emerge with digital computation. How does the drive to make sense of, and productively use, large amounts of diverse data, inform the development of new calculative devices, logics and techniques? How do these devices, logics and techniques – from neural networks to decision trees, from Monte Carlo method to traversal algorithms, from text analytics to data visualisation – affect our capacity to decide and act?

In a world of changing data landscapes, how do mundane elements of our physical and virtual existence become data to be analysed and rearranged in complex ensembles of people and things? In what ways are conventional notions of public and private, individual and population, certainty and probability, rule and exception transformed and what are the consequences of these transformations? How does the search for ‘hidden’ connections and patterns using association rules, correlation rules or link analysis, change our understanding of social relations and associative life? Do contemporary modes of calculation, based on constant incorporation of heterogeneous elements, produce new thresholds of calculability and computability, allowing for the improbable or the merely possible to be embraced and acted upon? As contemporary approaches to governing uncertain futures seek to anticipate the yet unknown event – in domains as diverse as marketing and insurance, emergency preparedness and counter-terrorism – how are calculation and decision engaged anew?        Read the rest of this entry »

Policing terrorism at the University of Nottingham has been the subject of huge controversy, especially its filming of students suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.  It started in May 2008 when Nottingham student Rizwaan Sabir downloaded a copy of an al-Qaeda training manual for his PhD proposal and sought the support of staff member Hicham Yezza, who worked at Nottingham’s school of modern languages.  Both were arrested by counter-terrorist Met officers.  Freedom of Information Act documents posted on the website Unileaks reveal that they were mentioned in a report by the Home Office, Islamist Terrorist Plots in Great Britain: Uncovering the Global Network. Read more

IHRR has a programme of research dedicated to ‘Security and Risk’ and one element of this programme is thinking through how we are confronting new security regimes, such as those found in airports.

We live in technologically managed ‘risk environments.’  In some ways, everything is shaped around risk; it provides the margins, the guidelines for how we build a technological society.  Airports are the biggest example, particularly in post 9/11 US.  I recently visited the States — Detroit, Michigan.  Leaving from Detroit Metro Airport for London Heathrow I was in for a bit of a surprise, and whilst I recalled the past event of a passenger attempting to detonate an explosive device after his flight landed in Detroit from Amsterdam, I had no idea what I was in store for. Read more

This is an interview with Dr Francisco Klauser, a former leading researcher in IHRR’s Risk and Security programme.  He is currently an assistant professor in political geography at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.

Dr Francisco Klauser

Dr Francisco Klauser’s research focuses on the relationships between space, risk/surveillance and power, especially public urban space and places of mobility.  In recent years, he has developed an international portfolio of work on security and surveillance at sport mega-events, including publications on the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2008 European Football Championships in Switzerland/Austria.  More recently he focused on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

During his time at the Institute, he published in a range of journals, including theme-focused contributions in several fields and languages as well as in some of the most influential  academic journals such in English such as the British Journal of Sociology, European Urban and Regional Studies and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. He is currently co-editing a book on Risk Research: Practices, Politics, Ethics (together with Prof Stuart Lane, under contract with Wiley-Blackwell), and journal special issues of Urban Studies on “Security, Cities and Sport Mega-Events” with Richard Giulianotti (IHRR, SASS) and of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space on “Revisiting Human Territoriality.” Read more

Will the public have more of a say in how surveillance technology is used? (Panos Pictures)

One of the agreements made by conservatives and liberal democrats in new UK government is ‘further regulation’ of CCTV surveillance systems.  The question of course is how would they be ‘regulated’?  And how do you regulate surveillance technology that in UK has become nearly as ubiquitous as the toaster or microwave?  Was surveillance even intended to go this far in monitoring the daily lives of people second-by-second?  The societal assumption is often that surveillance provides ‘security’ in contemporary society; this could mean protection from terrorists, criminals or other offenders, but the question of who exactly is being protected and from what is still left unanswered.

In the technological society we live in today, people are often pre-occupied with how to alleviate the risks new technologies bring into their lives while reaping benefits at the same time.  In the case of surveillance technologies, the problem appears no different, but perhaps is more complex as we know that security must be achieved for everyone, that all people have the right to be safe, the much greater question of course is that do people make these choices regarding safety themselves or do technological systems in place (and the authorities behind them) make it for them? Read more

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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