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More in this section MSc Geopolitics & Security

Security and Mapping

Geopolitical Visualization and Security Mapping


Some of the dominant analytical and practical techniques our students engage with are approaches that unpick key geo-political representations, imagery, policies, documents, and documentaries. But while the students become adept at critical analysis and a wide range of writing, social media and presentational techniques, we also work to develop skills in the theory and practice of geographical information systems (GIS). 

To do this we partnered with Université de Cergy-Pontoise Department of Geography and their masters programme in GIS this spring on a security mapping project.

During this probably quite unique collaboration of UK-French staff and students, and building on Royal Holloway’s role as a satellite village for the rowers during the 2012 London Olympics, our students worked together to consider, investigate and critically represent the kinds of security threats present during a mega-event, and the security apparatus that would be constructed to mitigate those vulnerabilities. This took the form of a G8 style political summit scenario held at Royal Holloway’s campus, but we began the project with a tour of the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London. 


With insights from the Metropolitan Police and cartographers responsible for the contingency planning of the 2012 games, the students spent 3 hectic but enjoyable days working together using a blend of advanced GIS techniques in 3d mapping, risk analysis, and participatory methods. The teams considered a wide range of vulnerabilities and developed threat and risk heat maps of the campus by drawing onan array of materials from archival documents to utility providers. Crucially they were asked to consider who would use these kinds of representations, and how they would be used to mitigate issues as wide ranging as terrorism, protest, flooding to cyber attack.The students split into 3 working groups: 1. Crime and Terrorism, 2. Protest and Civil Disorder and 3. Hazards and Civil Contingencies.


The groups were asked to think critically about these approaches and to develop ways of involving communities to participate and question the production of security infrastructures. The teams also took seriously the consequences of security for those who live and work with it and were asked to question their plans according to proportionality and fairness.

Immediate write-ups of the project have begun already: see http://rhulgeopolitics.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/critical-security-mapping/




[we will be producing a film about the event, so please check back here for an update]


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