Dr Kavitha Kishen, Deputy Director, National Security Science and Research at the Department for Transport, DfT, explains how you have a chance to work in the exciting area of transport security; tackling global challenges and seeing evidence based decision-making in action.
Science and engineering has a very important role to play in transport security. It provides solutions to security challenges and the evidence base for decision-making. The work is exciting and you get to see the outputs in use every day.
Science supporting policy-making
The Department for Transport (DfT) has had a science team looking at the challenges for transport security for many years. We rely on technology and solutions to continuously improve security on our transport networks. The team commissions research to understand how potential solutions can work across all modes of transport, with technical experts in the team providing advice directly to policy teams and Ministers. If you’ve travelled by air, on a train or by sea then you have probably interacted with some security process or technology that the team has advised on. Examples include airport security scanners and the public messaging campaign ‘See it. Say it. Sorted.’ which you can see across the rail network.
Innovative solutions to security challenges
Terrorist attacks happen around the world and are regularly in the news. So as you can imagine, the teams are very busy as the demand for scientific advice and new solutions to improve security increases. In 2015 the government invested an additional £25.5M over 5 years in the Future Aviation Security Solutions (FASS) programme, a joint DfT-Home Office programme which aims to improve aviation security by funding and supporting the development of innovative science and technology. FASS has already held two calls for innovative research proposals – the last launched in October on finding explosives in electrical items. Other opportunities such as trials of new solutions are planned for the future.
Meeting future challenges
Now the teams that work on transport security science are expanding rapidly. We will increase our number of technical experts, build on the existing FASS team to bring together our innovation work for security across all transport modes, and create a new strategy team to ensure we are aligning our work with future threats and opportunities.
The great thing about working in this fast-paced and high profile area is that you get to see the real world impact of what you do every day. When events are moving rapidly, you can be gathering evidence and giving advice one day, and then see the security solutions being implemented the very next day. Or over time you see security solutions go from an early concept right through to being implemented on transport. And you also get to work internationally to try and develop global solutions to the challenges we face.
Drive your career forward
We are currently recruiting! As we increase our team, we are looking for staff to get involved in this exciting area right now. You don’t necessarily have to have a security background to apply, but you must be willing to undergo the required security clearance checks. Please take a look at our Research Lead posts and more on the Civil Service Jobs site. Good luck!
Science & Research Advisor (2 HEO roles)
Senior Science & Research Advisor (2 SEO roles)
Research Lead (1 SEO role)
Research Lead: Resilience (1 SEO role, open to existing Civil Servants only)
FASS Programme Manager (Home Office) (1 SEO role, open to existing Civil Servants only)
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