The Cabinet Office has published a new UK Government Resilience Framework that places a strong emphasis on the better use of data, along with a focus on cyber security and a range of measures to improve strategic planning.
It aims to bring together all levels of government, critical national infrastructure operators, the private sector, parts of civil society and the public to make the UK better placed to prepare for, respond to and recover from risks such as terrorism, extreme weather and pandemics.
In its announcement, the Cabinet Office said it wants to improve the use of data “to build a more robust understanding of the country’s strengths and weaknesses, and share this information to ensure that every group with a part to play in national resilience is empowered to do so”.
The framework document emphasises the potential of technology to gather, analyse and visualise vast amounts of data, and the need to continue to improve the understanding of data flows, ownership and interoperability as part of the national preparedness.
It points to the setting up last year of the National Situation Centre (SitCen) within the Cabinet Office to bring data and expertise together for crisis management, in response to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.
Capability and innovation
There will be a focus on continuous capability development and innovation within SitCen, with a near term goal being greater automation leading to the use of machine learning techniques to create models that can test and refine linkages between datasets. In turn, this can pave the way for the deployment of digital twins.
It will be combined with an effort to draw in more relevant data points from across public and private sectors, including local resilience forums. This is underpinned by SitCen’s data strategy, which maps public and private sector data against the National Security Risk Assessment process, which will also be fed by more data sources.
Efforts to maintain strong cyber security as new threats evolve will include building on good practice such as certification under the Cyber Essentials scheme for companies seeking government contracts, and exploring the prospects of helping the insurance industry to provide coverage for cyber incidents.
The document emphasises the importance of the National Cyber Strategy, which has been backed up by one specifically for government, as part of the framework.
Themes of commitment
On a broader front, the framework sets out commitments across the themes of risk, responsibilities, accountability, partnerships, communities, skills and investment.
They include: delivering a new UK Resilience Academy; appointing a new government head of resilience to guide best practice and encourage adherence to standards; producing an annual statement to Parliament on risk and government’s performance; growing advisory groups; significantly strengthening local resilience forums; developing a measure for social vulnerability; and conducting an annual survey on public perceptions on the issues.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden MP said: “Resilience has long been part of the UK’s approach to national security, but in an increasingly integrated world in which we cannot predict or prevent all of the challenges ahead, we need to refresh our approach – that’s why we are making resilience a national endeavour, so that as a country we are prepared for the next crisis, whatever it may be.
“We have set out an ambitious plan and have already begun, strengthening accountability and transparency here in government and refreshing the way we assess national security risks. Our framework is a tool for local government, emergency services, charities and the public, to enable everyone to prepare for crises.”