purpose: Unlocking conversations between siloed urban security experts
partner: Specialist Operations
client: Dutch Ministry of Defence, Het Nieuwe Instituut
engagement: 40 stakeholders
project duration: November 2016–February 2017
‘Urban diplomacy’ is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game about urban peace. In the game, military officials, economists, urban sociologists, designers and other experts gather in an attempt to secure the city after an unexpected disruption to the communication network that has brought urban life to a grinding halt. The game is designed to bring a wide range of experts together towards a constructive debate on securitizing the city who in reality practice to maintain peace in the city, however mostly in a highly siloed environment. Enabling interactive knowledge exchange and collaborative solutions the game sets the stage for integrated approaches to safeguarding civil liberties through transparent and inclusive strategies.
Terror attacks, blackouts, severed connections, technical malfunctions, hindered logistics flows, and unavailable networks: the contemporary city is confronted with an array of threats. Even a modest period of disruption could tilt a city into darkness: where accessing information, safety, drinking water, food, and mobility becomes a daily struggle. Very quickly the invisible infrastructure that is taken for granted in everyday life becomes rapidly and tangibly clear to all.
National and local governments have responded to these threats through (critical infrastructure) policies, but face almost insurmountable problems in trying to move beyond symbolic gestures (such as armed police at airports or concrete barriers around stations). They face the inevitable fact that in order for cities to function and prosper, they must be open to the exchange of people, goods and information, which cannot simply be controlled, even with the most sophisticated means. The complex entity that is our contemporary urban city is hence arguably more vulnerable than readily admitted and requires a cross-disciplinary approach. The game ‘urban diplomacy’ seeks to find common ground for collaborative decision-making and conflict resolution among security experts with the common objective of safeguarding (and improving) civil liberties.