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What does our world look like in 2050? Can public-private (inter)national ecosystems secure our critical infrastructure? How can we tackle the root causes of crime and detect crimes in real-time? This article explains Deloitte’s vision for the future of security. Our visions are invitations for our clients and partners to join us in envisaging – and accordingly shaping – a pleasant planet.
The security outlook of 2050 in a three-point nutshell:
The backbone of the broader security domain consists of a robust, interconnected security cooperation made up of both public and private players.
Security is an international effort. Areas ranging from critical infrastructure to logistics, and even cloud computing, are regulated at an international level.
The government focuses on tackling the root causes of crime rather than fighting symptoms, and ensuring that crimes are detected in real time.
Fast forward to 2050. New security threats are ever lurking. And our lives are ever more digital, with the combination of technologies such as quantum computing and the cloud bringing a seemingly infinite amount of processing power to our personal and professional lives in the blink of an eye.
Protecting our society from threats is never easy, but in 2050 we have taken great strides towards securing the Netherlands, where threats are still an issue for these vital hubs: cyber, finance and trade. With the help of close collaborations between public and private players, the greatest security challenges in these fields have been tracked down and mitigated with new technologies.
The security of critical infrastructure, logistics and cloud providers is regulated at an international level, with a central body ensuring that our private data is properly encrypted. This offers protection against the unprecedented power of quantum computing, which can crack encryption in seconds (something that would previously have taken centuries).
Technological innovations such as a single digital identity are making our everyday lives much easier. Smart systems can detect crime in real-time and can analyse and influence the conduct of crowds via light, colour and smell. Best of all: by tackling the root causes of crime and detecting crime in real time, criminal acts have been greatly reduced.
Everything is interconnected, so we also have to address security that way
High-tech technologies such as autonomous drones and AI immediately spring to mind when we think about the future of security. However, robust, interconnected ecosystems made up of both public and private players in the national and international domain really make the difference. This is what Baldwin Kramer, who heads the Deloitte Forensic & Financial Crime practice in the Netherlands, believes. “Everything is interconnected, so we also have to address security that way,” he says. “Criminals and other threats do not discriminate, and work across borders by default. Collaboration through sharing information, experience, and skills between public and private players gives us a stronger and committed base with significant punching power to address security threats. This is a battle the government can’t fight alone anymore; the private sector must step up.”
Existing collaborations such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex and Transactie Monitoring Nederland (Transaction Monitoring Netherlands; TMNL) that helps fight financial crime give us a taste of what’s to come. In 2050, (inter)national agencies consisting of public and private actors have been established to counter terrorism, protect our critical infrastructures such as our electricity and gas networks, manage migration flows and the risks of climate change on a global scale, and secure the Netherlands as a digital gateway to the world.
Citizens also benefit from these collaborations, Baldwin explains. “Our data privacy, access to electricity and the Internet, phone connections and more are protected and guaranteed by consortiums of public agencies, firms and other stakeholders working to secure Dutch cyberspace and critical infrastructure, rather than being dependent on the cyber resilience of single players.” Technologies like quantum computing help these consortiums by unlocking numerous possibilities in the field of cybersecurity, such as completely secretly exchanging encryption keys, training machine learning-algorithms for identifying and defeating novel cyberattack methods, and generating true random numbers.
Another example is the facilitation of a single digital identity. In 2050, having different online identities for your bank account, government ID or social media is a thing of the past. Instead, one single digital identity is the norm. In today’s online world, synthetic identities and the theft of real identities are one of the greatest threats we face; a fact that the UN also underlines. According to Baldwin, this problem is only increasing. “The consequences for us can be enormous,” he says. “Suppose your identity, and with it your digital online vault, are taken over. A criminal can then gain access to, for example, your bank account, your car’s password and all the services you use.”
Preventing crime at its root is regarded as the preferred way to secure society in 2050
Even though the contribution of private players to our security has increased, the government still plays a key role, namely in the prevention of crime.
This is done, first and foremost, by tackling the root causes of crime through improved education opportunities and societal projects for at-risk groups. Because preventive measures offer alternatives to a life of crime at an early stage, the quality of life within vulnerable communities has improved and crime has decreased significantly. “Preventing crime at its root is regarded as the preferred way to secure society in 2050,” says Baldwin. “The terrorists and crime lords of 2050, for a large part, have not yet been born, and by focusing on preventing their transition to the underworld rather than addressing the symptoms, everyone benefits.”
Here too, civil society and the private sector play a large role, together with partners from the public sector. Even relatively small gestures such as helping out with professional services to outreach programmes, sharing the stories of relatable role models, and providing internship places for government programmes, all have a large impact on at-risk communities. With the current trend towards responsible business driven by purpose, this is a form of public-private partnerships we can expect to see a lot more of.
Furthermore, 2050 sees great advancements in the realm of real-time crime detection. Using smart algorithms, we’re able to analyse huge amounts of data for suspect behaviour, making it possible for the government and companies to identify crimes such as money laundering and hacking as they happen. Obviously, privacy can be a serious concern here, but thanks to the right proactivity on the side of regulators and responsible businesses, safeguards are being put in place to limit the implications for us all.
And it’s not just crime in the online world that can be detected; events and gathering places see technologies such as smart cameras and sensors use machine learning to detect when unrest takes place. These can then intelligently influence the crowd’s behaviour through the use of light, colour and smell (as is currently happening in a pilot in Eindhoven) to pre-emptively deescalate the actions of troublemakers.
And the opportunities offered by such technologies doesn’t end there. Imagine what they could do in a pandemic such as COVID-19. How, for example, smart sensors could be used to detect infectious people in crowds, even if they themselves are unaware of being sick? “Though the privacy considerations must be taken very seriously and stand at the foundation of any technological developments in this field,” says Baldwin, “real-time crowd analysis can become an extremely valuable tool in preventing conflicts and saving lives.”
To reach this scenario in 2050 where public-private partnerships and international collaboration are the norm, it’s necessary for public opinion to change. “The private sector’s involvement in matters of security often carries a negative connotation, due to a fear of security being for the highest bidder rather than for all,” says Baldwin. “This is a perception that needs to evolve. Private actors in the security domain need to be given the chance to profile themselves as valuable and reliable partners of the government.
“At the same time, we must develop an actively critical attitude towards all parties involved in safety and act as a watchdog, calling out inefficiencies, errors and the overstepping of boundaries. This is of vital importance to successfully move to an ecosystem-led security landscape.”
What’s important to remember is this: a single government will no longer be able to take care of all security tasks, certainly not online. Parties from all over society – from banks and security firms to civil society and the police – must actively go hand in hand to guarantee our security.
Connect with us
Baldwin KramerFuture of Security lead+31 (0)88 288 7215Bkramer@deloitte.nl
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