FOUNDERS: MATTHEW O’NEILL & MARK WILLIAMS
Founded in 2021, Defensive Thinking is the brainchild of Co-Founders Mark Williams and Matt O'Neill, two entrepreneurial students completing their MSc in Business and Technology at Ulster University, Northern Ireland. Prior to this, Mark and Matt researched cyber peacekeeping in collaboration with the Irish Defence Forces. Through conversations with military personnel, they recognised a need for improved information sharing to build trust in conflict and post-conflict societies. Drawing from their own experiences growing up in a conflict environment, Mark and Matt understand the complex human dynamics essential for building sustainable peace.
In complex conflict zones and stabilisation operations, securely sharing timely and trusted information between diverse military and civilian groups is critical but challenging. Legacy systems with fragmented data sources inhibit a comprehensive common operating picture. This raises risks to vulnerable populations, humanitarian workers, and mission success. For example, insufficient information sharing has contributed to recent violent attacks against peacekeepers and aid workers. Our research and stakeholder interviews reveal an urgent need for improved information exchange that follows core data security principles like confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Our proposed solution applies a human-centric, bottom-up approach to securely aggregate localised data into a shared intelligence platform. By mapping social, economic, cultural, and environmental factors, this platform will strengthen information sharing between military commands, emergency responders, and community police. With customisable access controls and encryption, the platform will enable more intelligent decisions while safeguarding sensitive data. Better coordination through timely threat intelligence sharing will drive capacity building, trust, and sustainable solutions to modern conflict.
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