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< Contents ERCIM News No. 63, October 2005
SPECIAL: Security and Trust Management

Australian Research Network in Security

by Ed Dawson

The Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA) is a multi-disciplinary collaboration, funded by the Australian Research Council for a period of five years, established to strengthen Australia's research capacity to enhance the protection of the nation's critical infrastructure from natural, human-caused, or accidental disasters, and terrorist acts.

The RNSA will facilitate a knowledge-sharing network for research organisations, government and the private sector to develop research tools and methods to mitigate emerging safety and security issues relating to critical infrastructure. The network will integrate complementary, yet diverse research areas including physical and information infrastructure security, and surveillance and intelligent systems. The RNSA has identified the majority of Australia's leading researchers, Commonwealth and state officers and industry leaders involved in critical infrastructure protection. This includes more than 300 researchers and professionals from 25 Australian research organisations, 15 government organisations, and an industry consortium comprising over 50 companies. The network has also identified a number of relevant international collaborators.

The network will identify and facilitate the integration of research programs and collaboration in the areas of critical infrastructure protection (CIP). The RNSA will encourage and support:

  • Open exchange of information and sharing of resources across disciplinary, organisational, institutional and geographical boundaries by organising workshops, focus groups and an annual conference.
  • Development and implementation of cohesive and integrated research plans among researchers by bringing them together and encouraging communication opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration.
  • Nurturing the careers of young investigators and research students through incentives, such as attending an annual summer retreat, as well as opportunities to participate in international and inter-institutional exchange programs.
  • Links with actual and potential end-users, and the broader community through an advisory board composed of recognised key stakeholders in Australian CIP.

Priority Research Area Recommendations
The RNSA's research strengths are indicated by the status of its world leading researchers who have extensive national and international linkages in relevant science, engineering and technology research. These researchers have been successful in attracting research funding and have access to research students and young investigator training programs. The RNSA incorporates a wide research base concentrating complementary research expertise that can address CIP challenges. Expertise pooled by the RNSA is broadly grouped into three research areas, composed of various programs as currently identified by the network participants. The research areas and corresponding research programs (see Figure) all contribute to the common research opportunities.

Research areas and corresponding research programs.

National Benefit
The RNSA is a knowledge-sharing network for government, universities and the private sector producing innovative solutions to secure Australia's critical infrastructure from threats that have the potential to cause national security, economic, and/ or social impacts. Facilitating a coordinated approach to CIP will align the efforts of researchers and key stakeholders (ie government organisations and the private sector) in the broad areas of science, engineering and technology. The RNSA has established notable contacts and collaboration with equivalent or similar activities overseas, e.g. in Europe, Asia, USA, Canada, and NZ. The RNSA activities program and its outreach plan will foster the development of local expertise through the enhancement of postgraduate education and the encouragement of CIP researchers, having particular emphasis on cross-disciplinary approaches. This will ensure that overall security advice in relation to CIP will not need to completely depend on imported or overseas skills. The network serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of best research practices in CIP, as well as a repository of expertise to advise government and industry on CIP matters.

RNSA web site:

Please contact:
Ed Dawson, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Tel: +61 7 3864 9551