About the Institute


Safety and security science is about the scientific analysis of undesired events, accidents and disasters. Safety relates to unintentional threats, caused by natural disasters, and unintentional human behaviour such as technical failures, and human error. Security relates to intentional threats caused by intentional human behaviour, such as sabotage, crime, fraud and terrorism.

Under traditional approaches, engineers tend to focus on safety issues with the design and its intended use, rather than the security questions that arise from the design’s vulnerability to abuse. In today’s world, safety is not a straightforward issue. Someone’s increased safety may be somebody else’s diminishing safety. It could be at odds with other important engineering requirements. Safety and security both need to be integrated into the engineering process, from the early days of impact assessment, until design, development and production. It is the mission of the Delft Safety & Security Institute to support innovations in this process.

Safer car construction will protect passengers, but may at the same time pose a larger threat to pedestrians and cyclists if the driver’s feeling of safety leads him to drive riskier. As cars are becoming computers on wheels, security risks may as well come from a distance. The development of autonomous vehicles adds even more challenges to this research field. Seemingly impenetrable firewalls could encourage sloppy password management which can be exploited by hackers. Plentiful camera’s in public spaces enhance some people’s feeling of security but invoke privacy concerns. The well-developed structures of strong dikes might not be as resilient as thought if the flood defence system is hackable. And, how is the science of infectious diseases affected by the risk of spreading of viruses by malicious actors?

These are just a few examples of situations that show why safety and security cannot be treated as separate issues. A contemporary, thoughtful engineering process calls for, amongst others, new, transdisciplinary design methods and a wider understanding of stakeholdership. This nascent insight still needs a lot of research and innovation. The Delft Safety and Security Institute aims to be at the forefront of these innovations.