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Security Improvements, through Research, Technology and Innovation (SIRIO)

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What is SIRIO?

In 2016, UNICRI developed the Knowledge Center “Security Improvements through Research, Technology and Innovation" (SIRIO) in Geneva. The Center collaborates with a diverse range of partners, including industry and research institutions (from both the public and private sectors) as well as governmental and intergovernmental entities.

The primary purpose of SIRIO is to analyse and promote knowledge and technology-based solutions aimed at addressing emerging security risks.

SIRIO focuses on several thematic areas, including supply chain security, critical infrastructures, cyber-space, the management of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials, as well as the potential security threats related to Big Data analytics, biotechnology and nano-technology, and artificial intelligence. The primary objectives of the Center are:

1) Identifying and analysing emerging and future security risks;

2) Mapping technology innovations to meet security needs;

3) Raising awareness among policy-makers about emerging risks and innovative solutions;

4) Developing a global network of relevant stakeholders to exchange knowledge and capacities


What methodology? The three-step process

SIRIO employs a three-step process to engage partners and address emerging security risks:

 1) Analysis and identification of emerging security risks in the identified thematic areas: UNICRI, together with national experts, develops and compiles risk scenarios, based on existing cases and literature to be discussed in thematic workshops. The risk scenarios will describe:

  • Narrative of the incident (what happened/could happen, what target/s etc.);
  • Causes of the incident (causes/factors);
  • Consequences and impact of the incident (casualties, costs, damage); and
  • Likelihood of occurrence (probability).

Risks scenarios and related documentation are discussed and assessed by a variety of experts during workshops. These workshops provide a platform for experts and stakeholders to collectively analyze, evaluate, and refine the identified risks.

In particular, participants are asked to consider a number of specific aspects related to the occurrence of each risk scenario, such as: its technological feasibility over time, its required capabilities (i.e. skills, knowledge, resources, equipment, etc.); and its practicability from a perpetrator's perspective. Participants are expected to provide inputs for different time-frames: short term (within 5 years), medium term (between 5 and 20 years) and long term (more than 20 years). This comprehensive evaluation helps in understanding the evolving nature of security risks.

2) Mapping technology solutions: following the validation of risk scenarios, SIRIO conducts a second series of workshops involving security experts, industry representatives, academia and international organizations. The objective is to explore practical  technology-driven solutions to mitigate the identified risks associated with the scenarios.

During these workshops participants discuss how existing or future technology solutions can effectively address the future risk scenarios previously identified. Through this collaborative dialogue and the insights provided by selected experts, SIRIO maps and identifies technologies solutions that hold a significant potential for risks mitigation in each validated scenario. The outcomes of this phase leads to the creation of Reports on Future Risk Scenarios, which align specific security solutions with the identified security needs. This process ensures that concrete and effective technology solutions are matched with anticipated security challenges.

3) Conduct capacity-building initiatives and inform policy-makers about emerging risks and innovative solutions: SIRIO conducts international meetings globally, including briefings at the United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva, with the aim of informing its partners and UN Member States about future risk scenarios and innovative technology solutions. The goal is not to predict the future, but to reflect on how different risk factors may interact in the future, what knowledge and actions are required, and how innovative technology solutions can support the development and implementation of long-term strategies. During these briefings, validated risk scenarios and related technology solutions are presented.


What topics?

SIRIO will initially focus on the following topics:

  • Supply chain security;
  • Protection of critical infrastructures;
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Blockchain technologies;
  • Big Data Analytics;
  • Biotechnology and nano-technology; and
  • Artificial Intelligence and robotics.

These topics represent the core areas of focus, where SIRIO engages stakeholders to enhance preparedness and policy development regarding emerging security challenges and technological advancements.


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What has been done?

SIRIO has produced three reports on emerging security risks and possible technological responses:

Technology and Security: Countering Criminal Infiltrations in the Legitimate Supply Chain (2021)

Technology and Security: Countering Criminal Infiltrations in the Legitimate Supply Chain (2016)

Understanding Advancements from the Perspective of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism (2021), in partnership with UNODC


SIRIO has also organized awareness-raising and capacity building activities on emerging security risks and technology-based responses, including:

The Regional workshop organized in Kenya in partnership with the Kenyan Government Chemist in May 2022

The Regional workshop organized in Ghana in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Ghanian Atomic Energy Commission in March 2023.

Launch of the Report "Advances in Science and Technology to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Terrorism"

Virtual meeting on supply chain security and trafficking of precious metals

Virtual meeting on Supply chain security and food fraud

Expert Workshop on Supply Chain Security