29 May 2015

Fruitful cooperation between FOI and Swedish universities

Through Security Link, FOI works closely with the country’s leading technical university. The purpose of this cooperation is to achieve cross-fertilisation between civil and military research in the interests of improving the security of Swedish society.

Security Link is a so-called strategic research centre that brings together a consortium from Linköping University and FOI together with complementary expertise from Chalmers University of Technology and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). Together the partners are looking at applications in which knowledge gained from military research can be carried over into the sphere of civil defence, such as communications security for ‘blue light’ activities and the protection of critical infrastructure, especially in the electrical power supply sector.

But this cooperation focuses equally on possibilities for the transfer of the results of civil research to applications in the defence and security sectors. One such example concerns the results of some work done on perimeter surveillance in which modern sensor systems streamline the monitoring of external fencing used to protect sensitive installations such as nuclear power stations. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and the Swedish Armed Forces are both currently interested in the results of that work.

“Normally the task of perimeter surveillance involves a substantial number of personnel, either on patrol or watching monitors. While there are simpler systems in which an alarm is triggered by anything that moves, what we are talking about here are sensors that recognise human movement and which are not triggered by, for example, rabbits or deer,” says Christina Grönwall, Senior Scientist at FOI.

This cooperation between FOI and the university is proving very fruitful, adds Christina Grönwall.

“The basis of a good collaboration is that researchers from the parties involved should feel that working together gives something extra. In this partnership I can see that we at FOI can share our knowledge in the security field, not least regarding the protection of information but also about the way in which we create tools to receive and analyse sensor data,” she explains.

In exchange, the scientists at FOI receive the very latest research results.

“Universities have top expertise in their fields, with a better overview of leading-edge research activities. This is especially true in the IT field where the pace of development in the software field is extremely rapid, not only here at home but in other countries where actors may be less well disposed towards us.

Important parts of the research within Security Link are funded under grants from the EU, Vinnova or the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), such as the work on stadium security and the protection of freight consignments, in particular preventing thefts and lorry hijacking. But with the growing success of Security Link, more and more assignments are originating from industry.

As the word gets round about the knowledge that we have now built up in collaboration with the universities, there is increasing interest from industry in our security research as exemplified by our work on perimeter surveillance,” Christina Grönwall tells us.