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Success for cyber security knowledge transfer partnership

Posted Thursday 28 November 2013

In November, a highly successful knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) between Kingston University's Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing and Kent-based security company, Selectamark has been awarded a Grade A (outstanding) – the highest possible ranking – by the Technology Strategy Board.

The Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing was awarded the two-year KTP, worth nearly £120,000, in 2011.

Selectamark offers a range of crime reduction solutions in the UK and overseas, specialising in property marking and identification supported by websites, ecommerce platforms and web applications. One of these is SelectaDNA, which is a clear liquid made up of an ultraviolet (UV) tracer and a unique DNA code.

SelectaDNASelectaDNA is easily applied to computers and other high-value items to identify them as belonging to a particular owner. The marking is impossible to remove and the DNA code is stored on a secure computer database, accessible by police 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If the equipment is stolen and later recovered by police, it can be scanned using a UV light and traced back to where it was stolen from using the unique DNA code.

Prior to the project with Kingston, Selectamark's web-based systems were developed and hosted by third parties, some of which no longer provided customer support for their older products, causing the infrastructure to become fragmented.

The KTP with the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing employed Joe Dixon, a Kingston University web development and media technology graduate, as the KTP associate. The project addressed the problem of disjointed computing infrastructure by developing expertise within Selectamark and bringing necessary skills and resources in-house. Both sides of the partnership provided software, usability and security testing expertise that was applied to develop a single, secure platform on which all of Selectamark's web and e-commerce applications are now deployed. This has improved flexibility, achieved significant cost savings in development and hosting, and helped Selectamark secure new contracts. Having all systems developed in-house also means Selectamark can plan new developments better and react to business demands more efficiently, enhancing its reputation as a leader in its sector.

Dr James Denholm-Price, principal lecturer, School of Mathematics, worked with Selectamark. He said: "For the Faculty and myself, this was an exciting opportunity to combine mathematical and computer science expertise into a project that had a real impact on Selectamark's bottom line, and gave us links with a commercial sector that complements our computing and cyber security provision."

Label MakerThe project generated a number of side projects that some of Kingston's students were involved with. These included computing with business student Daniel Brown, who worked with Joe to develop selectalabel.com as part of a summer internship, and postgraduate student Melanga Dissanayake, whose MSc dissertation in IT and strategic innovation involved prototyping a systems monitoring tool for Selectamark.

This KTP was preceded by two successful smaller collaborations with Selectamark. In 2010, Professor Jonathan Briggs of the School of Computing and Information Systems and Lukas Kinduris, a Kingston media technology and internet computing graduate, worked with Selectamark on a six-week project to improve the usability of bikeregister.com through an innovation associates programme.

Then, in 2011, Selectamark was awarded an Enterprise Support innovation voucher to buy services from the University to further develop the BikeRegister website. With support from James, Joe Dixon designed, developed and modified the bikeregister.com platform. This resulted in Selectamark winning a tender to provide the official cycle database and bike-marking product for London. The BikeRegister website is now endorsed by the Metropolitan Police and used by their cycle task force.

Andrew Knights, managing director of Selectamark, said that the new skills and resources the company had developed through the KTP with Kingston University had transformed the company's approach to e-commerce and the business that it can undertake. "We have developed a web and e-commerce presence that gives us a competitive edge in the UK and also positions Selectamark as a market leader globally."

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