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Project Alpha will create new innovations to ensure national security

In the last year with the tense international situation, hybrid threats have become one of the most urgent discussion topics. At the same time, improving the efficiency of public safety authorities is an important development target. The aim of the Project Alpha, which is of national and international significance and coordinated by Centria, is to create new knowledge, expertise and new shared innovations for identifying hybrid threats as well as for forming situational awareness to guarantee the safety of citizens and authorities.

Responding to hybrid threats requires broader than before situational awareness based on field data and diverse data sources. The Project Alpha research, which is part of the Business Finland Digital Trust programme, develops data models that can be used to integrate data from different systems and data sources. The data models enable the presentation of user-specific situational awareness in networked and allied inter-agency activities. Security authorities should be able to better utilise the data collected for the situational awareness in order to react to changes more quickly and to identify hybrid threats.

To create situational awareness, a huge amount of data is needed that can be collected by monitoring the environment and utilising state-of-the-art technologies such as smart analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and various forms of data processing. 5G technologies and edge computing play a key role in the Project Alpha, which also promotes 6G research. In addition, drone, sensor, radio and satellite technologies, for example, are utilised in the formation of situational awareness. 

Experimenting in test environments supports and verifies the research of situational awareness solutions, the integration of solutions from different organisations and public field experiments. Workshops and field trials also play an important role in the achievement of the Project Alpha’s co-operation and objectives. 

The Project Alpha gives authorities a better understanding of situational awareness and improves decision-making capabilities in the authorities’ field operations, control centres, and regional and national organisations. Different authorities also have a better ability to coordinate their actions, which improves public safety. The project’s business partners strive to accelerate their growth by renewing their product portfolios and aiming for new market segments, which will be reflected in the long-term growth of business, exports and employment opportunities.

Many changing and global threats to the environment, society and technological risks have contributed to the need for a project such as the Project Alpha. The project also increases international co-operation in cyber security, situational awareness and decision-making between authorities.

The multidisciplinary approach brings together companies, higher education institutions and the public sector to develop sustainable integrated situational awareness to support inter-agency decision-making. The Project Alpha consortium comprises two research partners as well as 12 companies and authorities. Centria University of Applied Sciences co-ordinating the project and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland participate in the research. The project partners include Airbus, Anarky Labs, Bittium, EXFO, Erillisverkot, Fairspectrum, Goodmill Systems, Insta, Mentura, Nokia, the Finnish Defence Research Agency (FDRA) and the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

The Project Alpha is part of the Nokia Veturi program, which brings expertise to research work in edge computing based on 5G technology. Both projects aim at the global scalability of solutions. Among other things, the Veturi program builds a shared ecosystem for data economy and edge computing between users, service providers and the network. 

The Ministry of the Interior of Finland represents one end user organisation in the Project Alpha. The research objectives of the project support the Ministry’s objective of Finland becoming the safest country in the world. The Ministry of the Interior is the ministry for internal security and migration and it is also responsible for example for Finland’s national capability for civilian crisis management. The Ministry is the representative of the police, rescue services, emergency response center operations, border management, maritime search and rescue and migration in the project (Ministry of the Interior 2022.) Project Alpha’s target to develop a data platform for sharing information supports these responsibility domains.

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Marjo Heikkilä