Wachstum und Veränderung im Zeichen der Digitalisierung

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Completed Projects

  • WISIND – The Security Indicator for Germany
  • Fragile States
  • Humanitarian Logistics
  • Airlift Capability during Catastrophes
  • Cybercrime between Risk and Reality
  • The Use of UAS for Civilian Missions
  • Working Group on Risk Communication
  • Security in Public Transportation
  • RiskViz
  • SenSE4Metro
  • Risk and Crisis Communication

WISIND - The Security Indicator for Germany

In cooperation with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) BIGS developed between 2012 and 2015 a system of indicators to measure the level of “civil” security in Germany. This project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The Security Indicator for Germany was constructed by using two composite indicators Security Threats and Security Provision. The intensity of objective crime threat – including the darkfield – was contrasted with the subjective perception of the population. The results were displayed spatially on various aggregate levels, all the way down to district level.

For further information on WISIND please visit the dedicated project website: www.sicherheitsindikator.de.







Comparing Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States

Successful engagement towards fragile states and situations requires the application of a donor government's diplomatic, humanitarian, development and security measures in a coherent and well-sequenced manner. This so-called whole of government approach seeks to address the interdependent challenges for development and security in contexts of fragility and conflict in the most coordinated and efficient way.

The research project "Comparing Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States", commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), sought to provide an overview of current practices and highlight innovative solutions to designing and implementing whole of government approaches towards fragile states that are relevant for the German debate.

The analysis examined current efforts to implement whole of government approaches towards fragile states in four donor countries: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada and Australia. These four case studies were chosen by the BMZ because of their innovative approaches from an initial pool of six countries that also included France and the United States during the first phase of research.

The results of the project were published in BIGS Essenz Nr. 13 „Vernetzte Ansätze für den Umgang mit fragilen Staaten - ein internationaler Vergleich" and BIGS Policy Paper No.3 „Comparing Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States". For each country, the authors discuss the conceptualisation and institutionalisation of the whole of government approach by analysing related strategies and frameworks, institutional arrangements and funding mechanisms as well as the role of development policy. In the final section, the authors draw from the collective findings of all cases under review and propose recommendations for the further institutional development of the German whole of government approach. On 19 August 2013, BIGS also presented the results at the BMZ, followed by a discussion with ministry officials as well as selected experts and embassy representatives.

Project duration: November 2012 – August 2013

Institutional and Organisational Aspects of Humanitarian Logistics

International disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti, the flood in Pakistan, or the famines in Africa require prompt transport of relief supplies to the affected regions. For this purpose, transport capacities are often chartered on the private market where availability is not ensured. This can result in long waiting periods and increasing prices as airplanes are not at the relief agencies' immediate disposal and thus, have to be brought to the respective regions. A generally applicable and accessible concept which precisely controls the transport, assigns responsibilities and means does not exist.

This project analysed how air transport capacities can be provided in disaster situations in a suitable manner. The analysis has shown that a concept of shared transport capacities with a clear assignment of responsibilities and means makes more effective and efficient organization of humanitarian logistics possible. Organisational and logistical planning would be simplified and relief agencies were able to provide a sustainable and strengthened local disaster response.

Airlift Capability during Catastrophes

International catastrophes, such as the Haiti earthquake or the Pakistani floods, require the rapid transportation of aid supplies to the affected region. Frequently, the needed transport capacity is purchased on the private market. However, this solution has the disadvantage that aid organizations must deal with either substantial waiting times or high prices due to elevated demand. Furthermore, it is usually not possible to purchase a "one-stop contract" for the transport of aid directly into stricken areas, as the conventional aircraft typically available on the market cannot land in areas in which airport infrastructure has been destroyed. Instead, aid materiel must then be transported by land or air from staging bases further outside the disaster area. Thus, delays make the disruptions of life-saving services and goods unavoidable.
The project seeks to investigate how appropriate airlift capabilities can be provided especially for disaster situations, focusing on providing airlift capability in a way which minimizes the need to utilize commercial providers, while also improving upon the status quo.

For this project's paper cklick here.


Between Two Worlds – Cybercrime between Risk and Reality

The protection of the World Wide Web as one of the most important critical infrastructures and the protection against cybercrime is a major trend in homeland security. Nevertheless the data about the extent of the attacks and their damage is still very unsatisfactory. There is an on-going discussion in Germany and elsewhere about whether there should be an obligation to report incidents of cybercrime. Companies and individuals have been skeptical of this idea, pointing to a range of problems that go along with it.

As part of a project BIGS seeks to analyse the extent to which the data of existing studies is reliable. The existing literature will be studied in detail and examined for its validity. The goal of the project is to give an overview of the currently available information on cybercrime and to evaluate their usefulness for companies and societies.

The Use of UAS for Civilian Missions

After the earthquake which struck Japan in March 2011, the first ons to provide pictures from inside the destroyed Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant were drones- in scientific terminology unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). However, UAS has so far played only in a minor role in civilian applications, especially in Europe. In this study, the potential civilian applications for UAS are identified and critically investigated. The study seeks to emphases the advantages as well as the limitations of unmanned aerial vehicles. The special characteristics of UAS are compared with existing alternatives which are already used in civilian reconnaissance missions, to determine and evaluate the potential of UAS in the civilian sphere. Special attention is given to UAS support in disaster management and the use of UAS in homeland security.

The institute's publication on this topic is available here.

Working Group on Risk Communication

The Working Group on Risk Communication is a long-term project which is investigating the communication of information about threats and hazards between the state and its agencies on the one hand and the general population on the other hand. Such communication, which is planned and implemented over the long term, seeks to improve the civil defense preparedness and willingness of the general population, especially in "situations of national importance".
A circle of selected experts, under the direction of Hans-Peter Weinheimer, will analyze existing communication structures and will develop a plan which formulates proposals for the improvement of such communication in the future.


In Germany and other countries, recent experience with major catastrophes and terrorist attacks, but also an assessment of the threats and associated vulnerabilities in the future, has led to a reexamination of security planning and measures. Strengthening the public's responsibilities has become a priority in efforts to further develop security policy, especially in regard to major threats and vulnerabilities.

The Status Quo

In the event of a disaster in Germany, the „National Emergency Response and Assistance System" springs into action. The system provides excellent response to common dangers and emergency situations and, with the police, fire departments and rescue serves, has an almost omnipresent, highly recognizable public presence. However, the question must also be asked whether the system is suited to providing long-term security in situations which go well beyond the prevention of traditional disasters.
This question becomes especially relevant in relation to the need to deal with so called „situations of national importance ". This term is understood to include emergencies which have a broad geographical impact across several federal states. They may be caused by extreme weather, technical accidents, or terrorist attacks, but they particularly include CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) events. Such situations are most likely to possess the dynamics, escalation potential and psychological impact upon the populace and response personnel to have important nationwide impact.


Especially in light of such scenarios, a new sensibilization of the public to risk is needed, in order to ensure sustainable security. Such sensibilization serves as the basis for the public's willingness to contribute to the mitigation of dangers and to the response to actual events. The public must be prepared for these new challenges. Reaching the public is contingent both upon truthfulness in regard to existing risks and transparency in regard to the state's role in response planning. Successful risk communication is a dialogue process which requires a transparent communications policy, conducted in a spirit of trust, in which the debate between opposing positions is open for all to see. The citizen must understand his role as that of an equal partner, and therefore as a responsible part of the greater system. He or she must come to comprehend that, through his role and actions, he plays an important part in determining how catastrophes unfold and what their impact is, especially in situations of national importance. Therefore, the focus of the working group's research is the relationship between the state and citizen, with a view towards responding to important dangers and catastrophes. The goal is to point towards new ways of communication which are suited clarifying the division of roles in disaster response for all participants – that is, where the state can act and where the individual carries responsibility.

Security in Public Transportation

In recent years, the number of violent attacks on public transport systems in Germany has increased. The tragic height of such incidents is represented by a spectacular case of violent crime in the Munich commuter rail station of Solln on September 12, 2009. A passenger was fatally injured by two young men after he attempted to protect children who the perpetrators had threatened. This incident lead the conference of State and Federal Interior Ministers to place the issue of security in public transportation on the Agenda of their fall meeting.

The State of Brandenburg is planning to develop a law enforcement and security plan for public transportation. Currently, it is believed that few of Brandenburg's public transportation providers have seriously addressed the topic of security in public transportation. Security topics are often addressed on a ad-hoc basis, and to the extent that daily operations require it. The security plans drawn up by infrastructure and public transport providers are not subject to any standards or minimum requirements; no overview of the operators or users of public transportation exists; and there is no overview of data which is relevant to public transportation security or criteria for evaluating them.

The Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior therefore entrusted BIGS with the production of a preliminary study on security in public transportation. The study provides a first overview of the actors and participants in public transportation in Brandenburg, current security measures, and of the data which exists on security in the public transportation system. Furthermore, the study illustrates deficits and problems in the cooperation of the individual actors in the public transportation system and makes recommendations regarding the contents and implementation of future studies on security in public transportation.

For this project's papers in German click here for the short version and here for the long study.

RiskViz – Providing a risk situation picture of industrial IT security in Germany

Cyber attacks on critical infrastructures are having an increasingly negative impact on the private sector and governments and thus on the general public who depend on their services as well. At the same time, many operators of critical infrastructure are increasingly connecting their Industrial Control Systems (ICS), which are also used in many critical infrastructures, to the Internet to monitor and control their operations in an uncomplicated and inexpensive way. However, security incidents in the past have shown that connecting an internal IT environment to the Internet can increase vulnerabilities to network breaches, data theft and Denial-of-Service activities in the industrial environment of electricity plants and other critical infrastructure. Yet, the federal government, federal states or municipalities, which are in charge of critical infrastructures, have no appropriate means to assess the intensity of threats, vulnerabilities and potential impacts and to make them transparent for operators. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to insure critical infrastructures against damages due to IT security breaches.

Within the framework of its IT Security Research Program, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project "Providing a risk situation picture of industrial IT security in Germany" (RiskViz). In a consortium with the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg, the Freie Universität Berlin, Genua mbH, Koramis GmbH, LEW Verteilnetz GmbH, Technologie Centrum Westbayern and MunichRe (associated partner), the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security (BIGS) will develop methods and instruments to identify ICS that have insufficient protection against cyberattacks. The research project aims to create a search engine that is capable of finding ICS and of collecting relevant information about the system and its risk situation without interfering with its operations.

The overall aim of this project is to improve the German economy's IT security, in particular with regard to critical infrastructures. Within this scope, BIGS will analyze the regulatory framework that is necessary for the development of a market for cyber insurance and will highlight and develop further political and economic instruments that could help to close identified security breaches.

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SenSE4Metro is a joint project involving partners from BIGS Potsdam, the Fraunhofer Institute, the Berliner Fire Brigade, ITC Engingeering and Universität Bundeswehr. The project will provide information leading to improved security of persons in urban underground trains and underground stations during emergency situations. BIGS will implement a Work Package that will investigate the feasibility of internationally standardizing response protocols by testing cultural differences between firefighters across countries.

In the first phase, this will involve systematic comparison of responses in emergency situations that have occurred in a wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds. This will be augmented by a review of existing regional and national protocols, which will determine existing underlying differences in emergency response. In the second phase, laboratory-based experimental games and computer-based simulations will determine the extent to which cultural differences exist at the individual level and the extent to which such differences can be overcome by the adoption of standardized protocols.

For more information on the project visit sense4metro.org.



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Risk and Crisis Communication

BIGS has a long-term focus on risk and crisis communication in the field of civil security. The application of risk and crisis communication in the field of public risk and crisis management is central to research projects as well as the exploration of how our society deals with risk and crises - especially in politics and media.

Additionally, BIGS provides a platform of in-depth discussion on the topics of risk and crisis communication in relation to social resilience, which is understood as the self-help capacity of a population in crisis and disaster situations. Apart from project work and research on these topics, BIGS also organizes events concerning risk and crisis communication issues on a regular basis.

Recently, BIGS hosted a symposium on "Social Media in Crisis and Disaster Management" together with the Department of Business Information Systems and Electronic Government at the University of Potsdam (November 2013). The symposium proceedings titled "Social Media in Crisis and Disaster Management" were published at GITO Verlag in spring 2014.