Among a whirlwind of course leadership, business development, teaching, writing, and course validations, I found time to present to Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Windsor Debate on ‘The Changing Face of National Security’. My presentation – Cyber Security: Mission Impossible? – was part of a wider programme of discussions by senior military and industry influencers and analysts about the dynamic changes that affect policy and capability.
The event was held at Windsor Castle, a suitable backdrop for discussions concerning the defence and maintenance of the UK’s values and priorities in the face of historic challenges, and looking forward to an uncertain and unpredictable future. The debate was a fantastic opportunity to contribute to and learn from the knowledge and ideas surrounding our resilience for the future. Delegates discussed everything from international stability to aviation security, and from state intelligence to cyber security. As we at Bucks have these subjects firmly in our portfolio, the debates allowed me to contextualise what we think we know about some of these areas – and of course how much we don’t know.
What was clear from the presentations and of course from the ‘offline’ discussions was that the risk dynamic and landscape is fluent and unpredictable. The range of opinions and ideas was hugely diverse and reflects for me a major concern. We know what we think we need to protect, but we have only vague ideas and concepts about the how and what of doing it. The future is as chaotic and uncertain as it has ever looked -and the main outcome for me is that step change in fluid thought and approach to this shifting and vague, random and accelerating challenge set is necessary now.
Pleasingly, I only heard one ‘megatrend’. No ‘Internet of Things’ and the only swan, black or otherwise, that I encountered was at the river on my way to the Castle. As I sat in the magnificent St George’s Chapel at the end of the day during Evensong I was able to thank God for those small mercies!
Phil Wood is Head of Department, Security and Resilience, at Buckinghamshire New University.