Unveiling the secrets of PROTON
Big changes happen when different disciplines are combined. This is the key idea behind the EU-funded project PROTON, which developed a new method to model the recruitment processes to organised crime and terrorist networks through an innovative integration of social and computational sciences. This approach took form with the development of PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard, which policy makers can use to implement new, evidence-based security measures to hinder the growth of criminal and terrorist organisations. To help the end users of PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard exploit the full potential of this new approach, PROTON has released a number of non-technical, easy-to-understand resources based on multiple editorial formats, all accessible from a dedicated section of the project website:
- A project video, offering an overview of the key concepts and motivations of PROTON, as well as of its main outcomes;
- The recording of the project webinar held on the 30th of September 2019, during which presentations on PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard were given by the Laboratory of Agent-Based Social Simulation of the National Research Council of Italy and ITTI sp z.o.o., both members of the PROTON consortium;
- A manual, serving as a brief introduction to agent-based models in PROTON for potential end users;
- A factsheet, a short publication presenting the main results and findings of PROTON. In particular, it also summarises the outcomes of the analyses of the social, psychological and economic factors leading to recruitment to organised crime and terrorism that were carried out by the PROTON consortium. These analyses provided key inputs for the development of PROTON-S.
PROTON is a is a three-year European project launched in October 2016. It is run by a Consortium of 21 partners from many European countries, as well as from Israel and the United States. The consortium is coordinated by Transcrime, the Joint Research Centre on Transnational Crime of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan (Italy), and it includes leading research institutions and relevant policy makers and enforcement agencies. Its large-scale and heterogeneity reflects the need for international and multidisciplinary cooperation in the combat to criminal and terrorist networks.
PROTON-S is a set of agent-based models (ABM) computer simulations that model the complex components of a society, including individuals, groups and institutions. As in every society, existing criminals or terrorists may try to recruit others whom they come in contact with. PROTON-S simulations examine the effects of different policy options on reducing recruitment to organised crime or terrorism. PROTON Wizard is a software tool which embeds the results of PROTON-S and makes them easily available to end users.
The advantages of ABM simulations are: the possibility to test the impact of specific interventions before their deployment; they are faster and cheaper than experiments; it is possible to investigate the long-term effect of policies; no harm to individuals or ethic concerns.
With the possibility to assess the effectiveness of new security policies in silico before their implementation in society, policy makers have a very powerful tool in their hands to make their cities and countries safer. PROTON is charging into a new era in the fight against crime and terrorism. Are you ready to be part of it?