Government to enhance surveillance and use crowds as a sensor to combat terrorism


A new Government competition is aiming to develop technologies that can keep people safe in crowded spaces.

One of the areas it will focus on is improving surveillance.

The Government believes that doing so will lead to potential threats in public places being spotted more quickly, and terrorists being caught before they’ve had the chance to act.

It will also concentrate on “behavioural science projects”. 

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The competition is being run by the Defence and Security Accelerator, which will hold an event in London on 27 July to provide further information.

It “seeks innovative or novel ideas to reduce the threat from the terrorist or malicious use of explosives and weapons in public spaces by using the crowd as a sensor,” the says. 

“We envisage these capabilities and systems being used in crowded spaces, such as shopping centres, sports stadia and entertainment venues.”

It also wants to monitor “the crowd’s conscious and sub-conscious reaction to threats” and train members of the public to spot threats.

Up to £2 million in funding will be made available to researchers and “tech innovators”.

“In light of the horrific attacks in London and Manchester, the Government has committed to review its counter-terror strategy and further to this I am announcing today that we are making up to £2 million available to fund research into cutting edge technology and behavioural science projects designed to keep people safe in crowds,” said Security Minister Ben Wallace.

“The threat from terror does not stand still so neither will we, which is why we are calling on the best and the brightest from the science and technology sector to come forward with their ideas and proposals to support our ongoing work to keep people safe.”

The Home Office and Royal Society are supporting the scheme. 

“The Defence and Security Accelerator exists to help government find and exploit game-changing ideas to help the security services and police stay one step ahead of those who threaten our safety,” said Lucy Mason, the head of the Defence and Security Accelerator.

“By funding and fast tracking the development of real solutions, we help to bring the innovation community together, rapidly.”


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