Developing tools to counteract and prevent suicide bomber incidents: A case study in Value Sensitive Design

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Developers and designers make all sorts of moral decisions throughout an innovation project. In this article, we describe how teams of developers and designers engaged with ethics in the early phases of innovation based on case studies in the SUBCOP project (SUBCOP stands for ‘SUicide Bomber COunteraction and Prevention’). For that purpose, Value Sensitive Design (VSD) will be used as a reference. Specifically, we focus on the following two research questions: How can researchers/developers learn about users’ perspectives and values during the innovation process? and How can researchers/developers take into account these values, and related design criteria, in their decision-making during the innovation process? Based on a case study of several innovation processes in this project, we conclude the researchers/developers involved are able to do something similar to VSD (without them knowing about VSD or calling it ‘VSD’), supported by relatively simple exercises in the project, e.g., meetings with potential end-users and discussions with members of the Ethical Advisory Board of the project. Furthermore, we also found—possibly somewhat counterintuitively—that a commercial, with its focus on understanding and satisfying customers’ needs, can promote VSD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1058
Number of pages18
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Ethics
  • Suicide bomber
  • Terrorism
  • Value Sensitive Design
  • Suicide/prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Bombs
  • Information Dissemination/ethics
  • Decision Making/ethics


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