New KTP collaboration with Horus Security Consultancy

New KTP collaboration with Horus Security Consultancy

The internet era has revolutionized the value of open-source intelligence. A new two-year data management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the Oxford e-Research Centre and Horus Security Consultancy aims to echo this revolution through the construction of a scalable data storage system that can quickly retrieve usable, quality data to support intelligence-led security decision-making.

Horus is a specialist intelligence-led security consultancy. Its key activities are security consultancy supporting the construction sector, open source intelligence, security investigations, and specialist screening.

Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnerships help businesses to improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which they consider to be of strategic competitive importance.

Horus' knowledge, assessments and advice are built on its open source (OS) research expertise. Whether conducting an investigation, tracking the sale of illicit merchandise or monitoring social media chatter, Horus' research is dependent upon the discovery, capture and analysis of OS information – or 'raw data'. The development of an effective data management system – a HorusHub – will allow analysts to find, understand, use and, crucially, reuse the data and knowledge held within the company. Future assignments would improve and expand the HorusHub so that analysts can quickly access and understand a growing data-set in order to deliver improved products for established clients as well as develop products for new clients.

Centre activity will be led by Professor David Wallom, Associate Professor and Associate Director-Innovation, who says, "Current commercial approaches in data management require large and costly customizations of off-the-shelf products. There is a significant synergy between the operational and data approaches exhibited already by Horus and the Centre's research activity. A system based on open source solutions customized to their own requirements will deliver benefits in retrievability, usability, speed, quality and scalability, and will offer the opportunity for Horus to embed the technology in normal operations without significant infrastructure or training costs".

The e-Research Centre provides unique knowledge and expertise in relevant data management, organisational techniques and the systems needed to achieve these aims. This includes customized linked data expertise essential to the success of the data Hub. This hub will build on a pilot currently operating in small scale for the community for which it was developed.

Professor Wallom's work on data management including institutional repositories, shared services and software as a service has led to his leadership in two different data focused projects: DataFlow - a tool to easily share, annotate and then publish active raw research data into the university institutional repository; and NeuroHub, a software as a service data management platform able to support the full research data lifecycle and integrate both new and legacy tools and services supporting the generation, processing and publishing of research data. He will be supported by Dr Neil Caithness, a senior researcher in Professor Wallom's research group.

A Research Associate is being recruited to work on the project and will be based in London. KTPs are one of the UK's largest graduate recruitment programmes and provide the opportunity for the Associate to be mentored by both industry and academic professionals. As part of the familiarisation stage of the project the KTP associate will work with Horus' OS intelligence team – "Insight" – to understand how information is used within the company. Through working with the e-Research Centre they will also gain in depth knowledge of the workings of a leading edge research organisation, and how the Centre uses data within its projects to develop products, tools or services to support both niche areas as well as more general requirements. Once developed, the new system will be deployed to all Horus staff, who will be fully trained on its use and uses.

Jonathan Whiteley, Horus' Managing Director, says "We are delighted to be participating in this partnership with the Oxford e-Research Centre. Thanks to Innovate UK, Horus will be able to develop a unique data management system facilitating not only greater efficiency but also improved intelligence products. Once implemented, Horus analysts and researchers will have at their fingertips well-contextualised, easy-to-access data they can use to quickly meet client needs. The KTP is also a fantastic opportunity for a Research Associate to be exposed to the realities of producing top-quality open source intelligence in a commercial environment in addition to Professor David Wallom's substantial expertise in the field of data management".