Ana Isabel Barros: Crime and Terrorism

Ana Isabel Barros is principal scientist at TNO. Her research area is defense and security.


Interview with Ana Barros

Ana: “Most decision-makers find it hard to look outside their own context. Their decisions are typically based on intelligence and regulations within one specific domain, or "subsystem". They have little understanding on how measures within one area can create unanticipated effects in other areas. In order to solve these complex problems, we need to assess how interventions can affect the system as a whole. By disentangling this complexity, strategies can be properly focused on efficient and sustainable solutions.”

Ana is a researcher who really understands this need to venture outside of one’s own knowledge field. She analyses criminal and terrorist behavior using a complex networks approach. At the IAS, Ana will engage with a diverse group of researchers. This will help her to move closer to her goal of understanding mechanisms driving agents’ behavior in criminal activity. Ana adds that “IAS creates a space for interdisciplinary research that is so much needed when tackling complex societal problems.” Furthermore, Ana’s fellowship will allow her to get new insights from the fundamental research on complex systems, whereas her work at TNO allows her to see how the research outcomes fair in reality. "It's a good example of using fundamental knowledge to create societal impact," Ana reflects.

Together with a team of UvA researchers, Ana will organize a Think Tank "Complexity of Covert Networks” to assess the potential of creating a simulation model for non-compliant, criminal and terrorist behavior. “Understanding complex systems is becoming more crucial than ever. If we gain predictive insight in the potential outcomes of our interventions, we can encourage collaboration between different organizations, for example policy-makers and law-enforcement officers.” Ana concludes.

When asked about the biggest lesson Ana has learned from studying complex systems, she answers: “the need to adapt”.

Think Tank “Complexity of Covert Networks”

The Think Tank “Complexity of Covert Networks” is organized by the following team:

  • Han van der Maas, Psychological Methods at UvA
  • Ana Isabel Barros, Operational Analysis, Intelligence and Complex Systems at TNO
  • Tom van Engers, Legal Knowledge Management at UvA
  • Don Weenink, Cultural Sociology at UvA
  • Paul Duijn, ‎Strategic Intelligence Analyst at FIOD.

Published by  UvA Institute for Advanced Study

24 July 2017