The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced plans to hold a ‘hacking’ event on the deep web to develop technologies that could improve the UK’s national security.
The MODHack event will run from 25 to 27 September at Wallacespace in London. It is being held by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Knowledge Transfer Network within the MoD.
The deep web traditionally refers to the idea that there is a huge amount of information buried in the billions of web pages that exist on the web that is usually missed by traditional search engines.
The MoD said that it wants to develop new and non-traditional ways to tackle this problem, as part of its Catalysing Defence Innovation through Science and Technology project.
“MODHack is a unique opportunity to collaborate with software developers, data scientists and innovators to develop ideas and solutions for mining of the deep web, using a range of open source tools and services, and to build something that has the potential to support the national security of the UK," the department said.
The MoD explained that current web search tools do not lend themselves to finding this sort of information, and that new services need to be developed.
“Today’s web searches use a centralised, one-size-fits-all approach that searches the internet with the same set of tools for all queries. While that model has been wildly successful commercially, it does not work well for many government cases," it said.
“The goal of the event will be to invent better methods for interacting with and sharing information, so users can quickly and thoroughly organise and search subsets of information relevant to their individual interests.”
The MoD explained that this effort will focus on ‘non-traditional’ search content and techniques to create "mechanisms for improved content discovery, information extraction [and] information retrieval".
The DSTL is already collaborating with the US Department of Defence's Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (Darpa) as part of the effort to improve deep web searching.
The DSTL noted that Darpa's efforts in this area have already resulted in the creation of several tools under its Memex programme, and urged those interested in attending to consider building on top of these services.
Anything developed at the event will remain the intellectual proprety of the developers, and ideas with viable market potential will be given the necessary support to develop them further.
Prizes will be awarded in various categories for coding and concept skills. Those interested in signing up can do so via the Eventbrite page.
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