Our company has more than 20 years of experience of working with with new technologies, at first in educational contexts. There was a period when schools liked new approaches to learning they thought interactive technology would afford. What we, and the school, forgot, was that there was not much interaction in their curriculum, so we needed to design completely new activities, such as argumentation, collaborative writing, or various types of discussion exercises. We now understand that such activities take years to evolve into a stable practice, and that all stakeholders, especially the teachers, need to be involved in the implementation. Schools were not willing to invest their time on such activities, and in this age of management schools prefer to install systems of administrative control that would confirm existing power relations, such as Blackboard or Magister. Soon parents will be alerted with every new test result of their child. Some will call this progress.

Moving to municipalities we witnessed more willingness to invest time for discussing possible affordances and implications of new technology. For example, we worked in a project that developed software for searching, selecting and visualising open data and open datasets. People were serious and curious, but only until the point that action was to be undertaken to try out the system. Then we noticed reluctance with some managers, and also at the political level. They could give us many reasons for this reluctance, but the bottom line was that the open data topic simply was not urgent for them. Another obstacle was that senior public officers did not think it was necessary to make dirty hands and really work with data, looking at details, building visualisations, and even bother to interpret the visualisations, or figuring out what other data was needed. They were used that other people in the hierarchy did this. Collaboration on open data was not part of their practice, and in this they were just as stubborn as the schools we visited.

So, what does that imply for our cybersecurity project? One, it seems to be a topic of sufficient urgency, but this needs to be established first. We need to tell our story why investing in cybersecurity is very urgent, and that our solution is the best. Second, we need to involve the crucial people in the organisation and make as clear as possible what their role is. We should spend time on framing their collaboration and we need to establish that all roles are fulfilled within this collaboration. And in the third place, we need to train and support public administrations, and not just handover the software. This will happen in the deployment phase.

Jerry Andriessen