By considering all possible ways terrorism can cause damage and then creating technologies based on such thinking, societies are instantly more resilient to terrorism. When new attack types strike, governments can utilise the new technology in the private sphere to prevent it. In the past, the private sphere used to follow attack trends.

Private Companies and Resilience

Today the state is still the dominant resilience actor through reactionary policy and predictive intelligence analysis and policy recommended by state intelligence organisations. However, there are new organisations that provide predictive resilience – organisations in the private market. These organisations work on a smaller scale when compared to government agencies; however, they are increasingly specialised, growing in number, and their combined efforts are influential. Private companies cover an array of threat prevention and responses, including intelligence gathering; drone trackers; analysis software; reports on the threat of CBRN terrorism; educational training; barriers and blockades; tactical response equipment; and logistical support.

Using divergent thinking, a way of thinking that considers all potential outcomes, and applying it to terrorism attack types, private companies have created new technologies that assist resilience to terrorism. So, when futuristic technology becomes a reality, societies are prepared to prevent its usage for terrorism because prevention technology already exists. The private sphere has ‘target hardened’ new technologies for terrorists before they become a reality.

During the Iraq war U.S. private mercenary companies helped attack terrorists; this use of the private sector was based on the trend of guerrilla-style conflict between state armies and terrorists. Although private companies continue to provide traditional support such as arms, security cameras and mesh wires, there is a revolutionary change in the private sector in its thinking and therefore in the products it provides to assist resilience.

Governments and private companies respond to drone terrorism

Through private company efforts, new technologies are available to governments to improve predictive resilience against terrorism. Most notably, drone trackers have an increasing use due to the potential threat of drone terrorism. In 2019, the U.K. Department for Transport published a report called Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK Government Response, which considers the use of private drone tracker companies to counter the potential threat of drone terrorism. Whilst private-government contracts are nothing new, contractors to the government to assist resilience in the city is a new and growing reality.

Self-driving vehicles

Many private companies, like intelligence agencies, consider the likelihood of a future threat. One prediction within the private sphere is the potential of a terrorist attack using self-driving vehicles to hijack and drop from the sky on the city below. Uber and Boeing’s future 2023 air drone, a revolutionary transport technology of self-flying pods between skyscrapers, is a concern to many in the sector as a terrorist target.

Private companies have created software programmes that scan the aerospace, provide live analysis on the flight path of pods, and identify potential threats on the ground and in the air through AI technology. This is another example of how the private sphere is influencing terrorist prevention by new technologies based on predictive intelligence and resilience.

So, what does all this change mean and why is it important?

Improving future resilience

The significant change is that private companies have adapted their thinking from an attack-based resilience response to one of predictive resilience which is more open to various outcomes. This new thinking means that resilience to new terrorist attack methods, such as hijacking sky-drones, is greatly improved because the technology to identify and prevent this attack exists. Strategic catch- up is evident in the policy reactions to 9/11 and 7/7; now, thinking is one step ahead because it considers not only trends, but future terror possibilities. This working relationship between state intelligence agencies, private companies, and governments is vital to prevent new terrorisms and improve resilience.

Thomas Sansom President Terrorism Research Society

Predictive thinking and past strategy

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