Roundtables on the Future of Security Research

In 2020, we convened a series of high-level roundtables, which brought together 36 key influencers across government, industry and the third sector for a discussion exploring the big security challenges which would benefit from continued attention from the research community. 

Participants were invited to respond to the following high-level questions: Since 2008, the UK Research Councils have supported work to identify causes of insecurity; to explore how security risks and threats can be predicted, prevented and managed; and to improve understanding of current and future security challenges. Do these remain issues of strategic and national importance, where research has a contribution to make? If so, what are the most pressing challenges that UKRI should focus on?”

The findings from these lunch sessions, which were convened in the weeks before the first lockdown, represent a useful snapshot of the security issues and areas of global uncertainty concerning non-academic stakeholders. It is too early to say what impact this will have on future plans. However, these findings have been shared with the Research Councils with the goal of informing their strategic thinking.

A high level summary of these findings is available below:

Threats and Countermeasures

Crime, Violence and Terrorism

What are the causes, context & consequences of violence & crime? How can we better understand and respond to violence in our society (given it exists in a complex ecosystem)? Can we improve prediction; and intervene effectively in the lives of vulnerable individuals with a criminal history?

Global Instability and Insecurity

How can we anticipate & cope with instabilities, taking account of an increasingly connected but disordered world? What are the security implications for Britain’s place in the world, post­ Brexit (including questions of National Security and Sovereign Capabilities)?

Emerging Technologies

How do we counter the threats and maximize the opportunities from emerging technologies including Big Data Analytics, Biometrics, Quantum Technology and Synthetic Biology, while considering the ethical and legal challenges they pose?

Digital Security in a Data-Driven World

How do we protect citizens from malign and criminal cyber-attacks, given current and future vulnerabilities associated with the Internet of Things, Autonomous Technologies and the Critical National Infrastructure? How can we do so while maintaining a sense of freedom?


Understanding, Managing and Communicating Risk

Designing Better Risk Management

How can we optimize Risk Management {RM) in the face of multiple threats? What does risk look like in a stressed and interconnected world? Can we improve data collection and risk modelling?

Security Threat Forecasting

How is security likely to be endangered in the future? How do we identify the full range of threats, and how can these risks be prioritised? Can we improve security forecasting?

Communicating and Experiencing Risk

How can we improve Security Literacy, ensuring everyone is better informed about risks and countermeasures (including businesses that need to deliver “Secure-By-Design”)? Can we evaluate the human impact of RM practices?

Systemic Risks, Resilience and Recovery

How can we improve our understanding of the vulnerability of critical systems, including effects from interactions? How do vulnerabilities evolve; what protection do these systems need; and how can we use systems to improve our security?