Government pledges £2m for surveillance tech innovation after London and Manchester terror attacks

Lynsey Barber
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Technology could help alert officials to potential terror attacks (Source: Getty)

The government is on the hunt for new technology to help it tackle the rising threat of terrorism.

As much as £2m will be put into funding innovative ideas that can help authorities improve surveillance and detect threats in crowds following the attacks in Manchester and London in recent months.

Security minister Ben Wallace will today announce the plans as part of the government's counter terrorism strategy, speaking at a conference bringing together experts in counter-terrorism, policing and the private sector.

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“Society must come together to defeat terrorism which is why I am delighted to see representatives here from businesses from across the country who take seriously the need to protect the public," he will say.

The cash will fund research research into "cutting edge technology and behavioural science projects designed to keep people safe in crowds".

“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," he will say.

The funds will be allocated by the Defence and Security Accelerator, which launched in December last year as part of the Ministry of Defence's £800m Defence Innovation Fund in an effort to foster greater collaboration between the government department and private industry.

Read more: Tech firms just found a surprising ally amid May's terror crackdown

The Home Office and Royal Society will also support the initiative.

"We must bring together the brightest minds from the private sector, and academia to help find solutions to help keep our country and people safe and secure," said head of the accelerator Lucy Mason.

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

So today I reach out to our innovation community to be part of something bigger and show their support for their country. I’d encourage anyone who feels they have a great idea that can help keep our crowded areas safe to visit our website for more information on this competition.”

The plans are the latest efforts by government to tap industry, and particularly tech startups, to help it tackle major security issues. A fresh hunt for tech talent by GCHQ to tackle security issues was launched last year, City A.M exclusively revealed, the first of its kind by the UK security services.

The government promised additional £2bn support for R&D in its industrial strategy. And it signalled intentions of creating its very own Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) style programme, imitating the hugely successful part of the US department of defence which develops emerging technology. The agency is credited with creating GPS (global positioning system) and helping create the internet itself.

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