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Future Research Requirements

Last Updated 30 November 2023

NPSA is the National Technical Authority (NTA) for physical and people / personnel protective security. A key part of NPSA’s role is to stay ahead of national security threats (terrorism and state threats), and ensure that proportionate, practical, and affordable mitigations are available to a wide variety of public and private sector users.

Whilst NPSA concentrates on testing and evaluating the latest protective security products to reach the market to inform our guidance on their performance, use-cases and effective implementation, industry and academia have a crucial role to play in researching and developing future generations of protective security mitigations. To assist with that, NPSA seeks to highlight through this webpage (which will be updated periodically) protective security needs it would welcome innovative solutions to.

Please note that while many of the needs relate to physical solutions, we are also interested in innovations in processes, procedures and behavioural interventions.

NPSA is currently looking to drive future protective security innovation under two broad themes:

  • The threat from terrorism has broadened and shifted in focus to include lower-sophistication attacks on venues and public spaces, public premises and events, necessitating a drive for development of new approaches to security as well as innovative ways of reaching and enabling adoption by wider audiences.
  • The increasing pace of technological change poses challenges as new technologies and next generations of existing technologies introduce new vulnerabilities and opportunities for realising malicious intent, whether by terrorists or states.

Please note that NPSA is not in a position to routinely engage directly with developers of potential mitigations, or fund such work (any instances in which we wish to engage directly will specifically be advertised). NPSA does, however, work closely with the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), for example assessing R&D proposals relevant to protective security submitted through DASA innovation calls (most notably the Security Rapid Impact Innovation Call), as well as engaging with DASA’s network of Innovation Partners.

NPSA also works closely with other partners and initiatives across the National Security S&T ecosystem, including: the Joint Security & Resilience Centre (JSaRC), the National Security Technology & Innovation Exchange (NSTIx), and the annual UK IC Post-doctoral Research Fellowships competition.

NPSA Protective Security Problem Book

Innovation opportunities where NPSA are keen to work with academia and industry to drive protective security innovation include:

  • Battery operated tamper detection technology for cabinets to identify if someone has tried to tamper with a locked cabinet out of hours.
  • Detection system for identifying audio or visual cues of the onset of a physical attack in noisy, crowded outdoor environments, to assist in early detection of physical attacks in public places. Auditory detection to cover both human sounds of distress and weaponry-linked sounds (e.g. gunshots).
  • Video analytics detection to identify when an individual falls in a crowd of people. The technology must be linked to cameras so events can be observed by security control room operators and footage obtained for post-event analysis and legal proceedings.
  • Aesthetically pleasing designs for physical barriers (glass facades/forced walls/detachable barriers) for use in domestic settings.
  • Innovative permanent and removable street furniture that can be installed in the public realm. It should be dual purpose: have an everyday function and be resistant to a vehicle impact. Refer to our calling notice for more information.
  • Options for stimulating the market for increasing the uptake of vehicle as weapon guidance and protective security equipment.
  • Exploring the utility of using CCTV, video, or social media footage for post-incident analysis of explosive devices, to assist in forensic analysis and identification of explosives material.
  • Vehicle search and screening technology for the identification of larger-scale threat items or materials (e.g. weaponry and explosives). As operational practicality and affordability are key considerations for end-users, solutions are particularly welcomed that innovatively balance detection performance with throughput.
  • Bag screening technology for reliably detecting larger-scale threat items (e.g. firearms or explosives), in worn, carried or wheeled bags and other luggage.
  • Novel physical protective countermeasures that can be deployed in a covert manner to reduce the threat posed by kinetic UAS effects on a temporary, permanent, or moving asset. The solution would be the last line of defence against an incoming UAS, assuming all other counter-UAS systems had proven ineffective.
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