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Supporting Critical National Infrastructure – at network level

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was hard to get commercial enterprises to consider Cyber Security as something their boards and shareholders ought to care about. Even those that understood the risk wouldn’t openly acknowledge it out of fear that that would be interpreted as having a cyber security problem. We now live in a world where protecting our data is a foundational component of capability which no-one would consider doing without, whether that data is at rest or in transit.

With so much business being carried out in the Cloud and the evolution of the Internet of Things, Telesurgery and Autonomous Vehicles being dependent on the ability of devices to communicate remotely, the security and resilience of the networks over which our data travels is at least as important as the security of the data travelling over those networks.

In the UK there are thirteen critical national infrastructure sectors and arguably there are two – power and telecommunications – without which, in the modern era, none of the others could operate. It was in recognition of this that led to the UK government's introduction of the Telecommunications (Security) Act 2021 to make provision for the security and resilience of Telecommunications in the UK. One of HMG’s key policy responses to support the aims of the act is to establish the UK Telecommunications Lab (UKTL).

Principle One has been engaged with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) as part of a ‘rainbow team’ supporting the business case and the planning and design of the UKTL since August 2020. Based in the West Midlands, this first of its kind lab will provide a test and evaluation capability that will enhance confidence in the resilience and security of telecoms networks and systems that have been, or are about to be, deployed in the UK. It will act as a secure research facility bringing together telecom operators, suppliers and academics to research and test innovative new ways of boosting the security, resilience and performance of the UK’s fixed and mobile networks.

Principle One’s multi-disciplinary team has supported work on business architecture, stakeholder engagement, PMO support, security and strategy

development over the time that we have worked with DSIT. By bringing together a range of skills and experience, we have been able to offer our customer value for money and respond quickly to changing requirements across many different aspects of the programme.

Ewan Cameron has worked on the project since the start of Principle One’s involvement when it was just one other colleague and himself supporting production of the UKTL Business Case. Since the start Ewan has managed the project’s stakeholder engagement and communications workstream but as the project has evolved into delivery and the team has expanded Ewan has led Principle One’s engagement with the client and taken on a larger portfolio of work including co-ordinating the transition of Business Operations and Security to DSIT’s incoming operational partner, National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

“Creating an enterprise completely from scratch is one of the most exciting and challenging projects that you can get involved in as a consultant. The important role that the UKTL will play in supporting the security and resilience of the nation’s critical national infrastructure makes it additionally compelling. My responsibilities have required me to understand the motivations of a highly complex stakeholder landscape and navigate the intricacies of an intervention driven by government but affecting and dependent on commercial enterprises.”

Ewan was joined by Tom King relatively early in our work with UKTL. Initially, Tom’s focus was on the development of the business case, an area in which he was able to draw on extensive experience. However, over time, his role evolved, and he was able to develop his wider architectural skills.

“Working on the UKTL allowed me to develop my experience in a variety of areas, ranging from requirements management, stakeholder engagement, and business case development. The project also allowed me to use Principle One’s systems engineering methodology to help develop the ITIM (Information Technology and Information Management) strategy for the UKTL, using a system of systems approach to help define the boundaries of the ITIM system within the whole business context and I am excited to see the whole team’s hard work come to fruition.”

Georgia Forester joined the project in March 2022, having previously worked as a civil servant as part of the government’s COVID-19 response. She has worked within the core of UKTL’s PMO and has also supported work across business design, security management, and strategy development.

“It has been great to put my consulting training into practice on this complex delivery and I have appreciated the opportunity to be part of such a cutting-edge government initiative to improve the UK’s security and resilience. Being part of a Principle One team within the rainbow team provided a useful foundation and safety net in my first consulting role, enabling me to work confidently, knowing support was nearby if needed. Gaining this breadth of experience has allowed me to develop my skills quickly, and I have enjoyed working in the rainbow team to achieve the project’s goals.”

Our work within the UKTL Programme team has demonstrated the scale of contribution that a small consultancy like Principle One can make to the development of the UK’s critical national infrastructure. Our depth of experience in the national security and wider public sector domain lets us have impact at a scale far larger than our size would suggest, not only delivering to our clients, but also offering our consultants challenging and rewarding roles where they can make a real difference from very early on in their careers. As Ewan says “as consultants, we are often only involved for a few weeks or months as part of a larger programme of work. Supporting the journey for UKTL from conception to reality is an experience I will never forget!”


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