ESSfES: Everyday Safety-Security for Everyday Services

Principal Investigator: Dr L Coles-Kemp

Research Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London

Grant Information: EP/N02561X/1

Project Summary:

Since the early 2000s public service in the UK has undergone significant re-design and a fundamental part of the vision is to produce services used everyday by people that are safe and secure for all. Acknowledging the importance of safe and secure public services, this fellowship is specifically grounded in that area of service design and focuses on the connections between the ways that people create feelings of safety and security in their everyday lives and the protection of digital everyday services.

In the design of digital services, responses to concerns related to trust, identity, privacy and security have typically been handled as part of the digital interaction between service user and service provider and yet the techniques that people use to protect personal privacy, keep information confidential, build trust and manage identity are also enmeshed in their everyday routines and practices. Whilst human factors considerations are a long-established part of this security design process, the focus is typically more on designing for user interaction and the protection of their data rather than designing more broadly for the safety and security of people in their everyday lives. As everyday services are increasingly digitised and reach into almost every aspect of a person’s life, it becomes a priority to link these two aspects of protection so that everyday practices become a part of a service engagement that protects an individual’s privacy, trust and identity as well as contributing to their individual security.

Security in the context of everyday life is much wider than protection from technological attack; security is also the freedom to engage with these new forms of public service free from concern about threats to their personal safety, security or privacy. In this context not only must technological attack be considered but so too must service providers such as housing authorities, local councils and health care professionals being regarded as threat actors and malicious acts against individuals by family and friends through the misuse of public services be considered. When traditional service providers and members of a person’s kin and friendship networks are regarded as sources of threat, people will deploy a wide range of social as well as technological practices to defend themselves. Successfully designing to support and improve these defences through social practices are as important as the design of technological defences.


This fellowship will develop a framework through which researchers can co-research and co-design with communities, develop interventions and create impactful techniques that support and improve social defences. Through the research framework relationships will be built between researchers, service producer and consumer communities and practitioners from the areas of everyday security and technological security design.

The fellowship programme will produce a handbook of real-world security-focused everyday service design research problems to be used as part of education programmes as well as the researcher communities. Additionally on-line engagements will be run periodically throughout the fellowship to promote broader thinking about designing to support trust, identity, privacy and security in everyday services.

This fellowship programme will also produce innovative technologies. Examples of possible prototypes include: sound and tactile maps to convey the lived experience of particular communities of service consumers, mapping techniques to show networks of trust across a geographical area, skills-swap technologies to facilitate knowledge transfer about trust, identity, privacy and security in a digitally mediated society and the development of virtual reality technology to help develop understanding of what identity, trust, security and privacy conflicts mean to different communities.