Gladsaxe vulnerable children detection

December 2018
Updated: November 2021

A system used by Denmark's Gladsaxe municipality for identifying and assessing children at risk from abuse has come under severe criticism for scope creep. It also raises concerns about the role of algorithms in democratic societies.

The so-called 'Gladsaxe Model' consists of custom algorithms drawing on parental health records, unemployment, missed medical and dental appointments and other data provided locally and by Denmark's Udbetaling Danmark benefits agency to produce a points-based risk assessment.

The hostile public reaction forced Gladsaxe to delay the roll-out of the system. However, it emerged that the authorities had continued to develop and expand it with additional data, including household electricity use.

Criticism from Denmark's data protection agency and a deepening political backlash led to the system's demise in 2019.

Operator: Gladsaxe Municipality
Gladsaxe Municipality; Udbetaling Danmark
Country: Denmark
Govt - municipal
Purpose: Detect vulnerable children
Technology: Risk assessment algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy; Scope creep
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing