Welsh Cyber Firm Chosen for Smart Cities Innovation Programme

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The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have chosen Welsh Cyber Security Software company Awen Collective for their Smart Cities innovation acceleration programme.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of the GCHQ intelligence and security organisation, announced on in February that they have chosen three British businesses, including Awen Collective, to work on some of the toughest security problems within the Smart Cities domain as part of a two and a half month virtual programme.

Watchkeeper International and the Cyber Defence Service are the two other businesses in the cohort. The programme is the 7th cohort in a series of NCSC Cyber Accelerators and is the first to have been dedicated to Smart Cities Security. The programme is in collaboration with Wayra, the innovation division of telecoms company Telefónica, and has partnerships with the Digital Catapult, Microsoft and others.

Cyber-attacks to energy, water, transportation, or manufacturing organisations are on the increase, they cause economic damage to these sectors and could cause significant disruption to society if the attack were large enough. It is the mission of Awen Collective to increase resilience and reduce the impact of cyber-attacks on society's critical infrastructures. Awen Collective does this by creating software to improve cyber security policies and procedures, and to enhance visibility in operational technology environments before attackers have opportunities.

Smart cities are a frequently discussed and increasingly popular concept. There are many flavours of smart city, but essentially, they involve taking advantage of digital technology for services such as traffic, electricity, heating, waste collection and other community services. The concept is popular and budgets for the implementation of such technology are increasing.

Smart city technology will bring efficiencies, cost savings, and better service to its end-users. However, the employment of smart city technology when it is overlaid on top of the legacy equipment found in the traditional infrastructure sectors has led to an increase in cyber vulnerabilities. Therefore, there is an increase in attention to industrial cyber security initiatives, products, and services by both the public and private sectors.

This cohort of the NCSC Accelerator is not the only initiative or programme that Awen Collective is involved in related to Smart Cities cyber security. Awen Collective was also announced in September 2020 by the UK Government Department for International Trade (DIT), as one of 30 British tech companies to be chosen as the first participants in their Tech Export Academy, which is a 9 month programme aimed at showcasing the best smart cities technologies across the Asia Pacific region. The CEO of Awen Collective, Daniel Lewis, was also announced by techUK (the British technology trade association) in November 2020 as being on the steering board of the techUK Smart City group.

As we continue to strive toward a more efficient and sustainable future powered by data, in movements such as Smart Cities and Industry 4.0, there are companies such as Awen Collective out there doing their best to ensure the security, safety and privacy of society.