Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Societal Security as a System-of-Systems: Customs Agencies' Cross-Sectoral Contributions

Sasan Zarghooni-Hoffmanna and Marja Ylönenb

Department of Safety, Economics and Planning, University of Stavanger, Norway.


The aim of this paper is to provide new insights into cross-sectoral, cooperative aspects of societal security. Societal security can be defined as the continuous outcome of a resilience-based system-of-systems whose purpose is to protect society against a wide range of risks. One of its subsystems is the field of customs. The role of customs agencies in societal security is not well understood. In particular, the cross-sectoral, cooperative aspects have been overlooked both in official guidance and in practice. This paper analyzes the contributions of the Norwegian Customs (NC) to societal security from a system-of-systems perspective, using data from governance documents, official reports, and a list of the NC's collaborators. The main findings are that (1) customs is a node in societal security, and its role much wider than earlier recognized; that (2) the current framework for societal security does not adequately account for agencies whose normal contributions are outside their own sector; and that (3) this lack of understanding impedes efficient and effective measures. Insights on societal security as a system-of-systems are summarized in a jigsaw puzzle analogy.

Keywords: Societal security, Risk, Resilience, System-of-systems, Customs, Critical functional capabilities.

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