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Can you boost UK defence and security?

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Dr Lucy Mason. Credit: DASA

I regularly talk to scientists, academics, and people working in the private sector, and they often say to me that they don’t know what we want or need. What are we really interested in?

These are valid questions.  How can they help us unless we share our problems and requirements with them?

Here, at the government's Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), the accelerating pace of innovation is a key challenge for us. Although the number of potential threats seems to constantly increase, there are opportunities for better capabilities and greater agility.

It’s true that in some areas our adversaries are more agile and less restricted by law than government organisations, and so we need to focus on adapting and responding more quickly.

It is our job to help defence and security organisations keep up with, and get ahead of, the real threats we are facing, which is why we want the public to share their defence and security ideas with us, and the GSE community to help assess them.

The Boom of Big Data

We are facing an exponential growth in data; collecting, analysing and interpreting vast connected datasets is hugely challenging and requires cutting-edge data science.  There is also increasing complexity in the data, as technologies converge or enable one another — sometimes in unpredictable ways.

Communications technologies have become ubiquitous. They can be an enabler of criminal or terrorist activities, playing a role in radicalisation on the one hand, and yet also vital for managing and responding to incidents.

Social media and smartphones have blurred the boundaries between online and offline activities, generating vast amounts of digital information that is vital for gathering evidence for investigations. We are also experiencing an increase in the diversity of platforms, with more visual types of communications.

Tech Evolution and Revolution

Advanced technology is becoming more accessible — technologies once limited to the state are becoming available to almost anyone who wants to use them, for whatever purpose. This has the potential to create new, unconventional security threats that are very different from those we have traditionally faced, perhaps unexpectedly, through either ‘terror or error’.

DASA virtual soldier training at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) show in 2017. Credit: DASA

Advances in automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence and an upsurge in the Internet of Things will inevitably have implications for security, potentially opening up new areas of vulnerability, but the upside is that they will provide real-time information to enable better decision making, and drive more efficient ways of working.

Got an idea?

DASA’s responsibility is to keep on top of these emerging technologies, and we want to hear defence and security innovations from the public. You can offer us a concept, product or service, at any level of development, through our Open Call for Innovation, and if you’re successful, your idea could be funded.

If you are a GSE member interested in helping DASA assess these ideas, you can get in touch at to discuss assessor training.

Featured image creditMEISC competition: underwater autonomous maritime technologies.

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  1. Comment by Lucy Mason posted on

    From Lucy Mason: You can read more about future technologies and how they could impact on defence and security in my report here: