Brian Sims

Cranfield University leads research into cyber security risks for MaaS

FUNDING HAS been won by a Cranfield University-led consortium for a project that will look into the cyber security risks posed by a digitally-enabled, low-carbon transport service. The funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, itself part of UK Research and Innovation, for a new two-year project entitled ‘Managing Cyber Security Risks across Consumers, Organisations and Sectors’.

Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) offers travellers a unified service that combines various forms of transport from a single point of delivery. MaaS carries the potential to reduce traffic congestion, improve customer convenience and reduce social inequalities and carbon emissions through the better use of public transport.

Ensuring success for MaaS will require a single application to plan and conduct journeys, a software system allowing multiple providers and Artificial Intelligence-based analytics allowing journey and resource optimisation. All of these interactions are susceptible to a wide range of cyber attack types which can affect different stakeholders of the ecosystems. Considerations include the cyber security of the transport infrastructure and online services and the privacy of consumers as well as employees of MaaS service providers. 

The complexity of the MaaS ecosystem, including its customers, transportation providers and data providers, as well as its dependence on data, creates a somewhat unique challenge from a cyber security perspective.

Cranfield University will partner with the University of Kent in forming a cross-institutional consortium and work closely with a number of supporting bodies including the University of Bath, Oxfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and Transport for the South East.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Dr Nazmiye Ozkan, senior lecturer in energy economics and head of the Centre for Energy Systems and Strategy at Cranfield University, said: “The Government’s ambition of reaching reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 means that we must strive to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Digitisation can help deliver a low carbon transport service to support this.”

Ozkan continued: “The ‘Managing Cyber Security Risks across Consumers, Organisations and Sectors’ project will research and develop the world’s first agent-based modelling framework explicitly focusing on the cyber security and privacy aspects of the MaaS ecosystem. This will be achieved by the use of Agent-based modelling techniques to define a framework that will model important aspects of a real world MaaS ecosystem, including cross-sector and cross-organisational interactions in the context of mobility, human behaviours, data sharing and privacy, cyber threats and incident responses.”

In conclusion, Ozkan stated: “While our ambition is to define a comprehensive view of the MaaS ecosystem, we also intend to focus on the MaaS customers’ perspective.”

A series of focus groups and expert workshops will be used to co-create the research programme and review findings of the project. Representatives from the public and private sectors will be involved as project partners, among them the National Cyber Security Centre, the Information Commissioner’s Office, Ofgem, National Rail, local authorities and transportation operators. Service providers interested in developing integrated MaaS solutions will be invited to participate.

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