RBOC N+ - Resilience Beyond Observed Capabilities

Lead Research Organisation: Coventry University
Department Name: Ctr for Trust Peace & Social Relation


The RBOC (Resilience Beyond Observed Capabilities) Network Plus will create new knowledge, new capabilities and new opportunities for collaboration to help the UK prepare for security threats in the coming decades. The starting point is a scenario of a catastrophic attack on digital and energy networks in the year 2051. RBOC N+ will convene some of the UK's leading experts in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics, health sciences, social and behavioural sciences, arts and humanities, and cross-disciplinary topics such as AI, security studies and urban planning, together with government and industry, to refine, deepen and test this scenario and to use it to create immersive simulations.

These simulations will support 'Reverse COBR' workshops, in which government, industry and academia will work back from the scenario's impacts to understand how they developed and what could have been done to prevent and mitigate them. This and other outputs - a flexible research fund, community events, an online platform developed and maintained by a project partner - will develop insights, innovate and create impact in response to possible and likely security threats and capabilities. Insights will come from the network's investigation into what capabilities, techniques and vulnerabilities could be exploited by adversaries to mount high-impact attacks against the UK, and what capabilities could be used by public authorities to prepare for and respond to them. Innovation will come from original research using novel combinations of disciplines and methods, from new relationships between researchers and policy makers and practitioners in government and industry, and from a prototype simulator for modelling the scenario with outputs addressing policy and practice implications, technology requirements and research gaps. Impact will come from the creation of new understanding and capabilities for government and industry to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the impacts of major attacks from hostile actors through research, academic engagement, cross-sectoral partnerships and a host of technological, organisational, legal and behavioural capabilities ready for practitioner use. RBOC N+ will deliver a simulation toolkit with tools, concepts, definitions, problem spaces and a digital application designed specifically for policy-makers and practitioners. And RBOC's impact will be sustainable: RBOC's demonstrable return on investment will stimulate and support applications for continued funding, through grant applications and direct investment from industry, policy makers and practitioners.

RBOC N+ will respond to eight challenge areas, each being an important theme of future security threats or responses. 'Adversary Capabilities' will investigate how the UK's enemies may be able to attack, while 'Our Capabilities' will address how the UK can prepare and respond, particularly through technology. The 'Physical Environment' challenge area will explore how cities will change by the 2050s, and 'Societal Challenges' will address potential developments in the social and political contexts. 'Responding and Decision-Making' will examine organisational and policy responses. 'Data, Information and Communications Infrastructure' will explore developments in enabling digital technologies, infrastructures and resources. To ensure that RBOC and its outputs manage security and ethical risks in ways that maintain trust, the final challenge area addresses 'Responsible Innovation and Trusted Research'.


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Description Expert Fellow - SPRITE Network Plus 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribution to SPRITE Network Plus as an Expert Fellow
Collaborator Contribution We participated in Workshops and Sandpit events
Impact Outputs are in the pipeline
Start Year 2022
Description National Consortium for Societal Resilience Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Showcased RBOC at the National Consortium of Societal Resilience Annual Conference in Manchester
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
Description Presentation at SPRITE Plus Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation and solicitation of interest in RBOC N+ at the Sprite Plus residential event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
Description Scenario Development Workshops (four co-creation events) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A core part of the project is basing the network activities on a defined scenario in 2050. In delivering on this, we co-created our scenario with a significant range of policymakers, practitioners and academics from across the Uk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022