Updating the cyber capacity building network

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In a previous post, I promised updates on the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GCFE) effort to map all international cyber security capacity building projects.  That includes all the projects that have finished, all that are running now and even some that are at the planning stage.  That’s a lot of projects!  At least a thousand, I estimate.

Only by having a clear view of all cyber capacity building projects can people properly coordinate their activities and make use of what has gone before.  The mapping effort will also contribute to transparency and should provide useful material for research, which in turn will improve future capacity building.

The good news to report is that since my last post the GFCE has doubled the number of projects in its database to over 500.  Information on all these projects is steadily being uploaded to a new GFCE knowledge sharing site: www.cybilportal.org.

While that upload continues you can still search all 500+ projects at www.capacitylabs.org/projects.  That temporary site has a new, more mobile friendly, landing page. Plus, the original desktop layout.  Plus, a new animated data visuals page.  What more could you want?  No really, tell me what more you’d like to help you explore the data and I’ll pass it on to the Cybil Portal team to consider as a user request for the new site.

Updating the cyber capacity building network map

In my previous post, I showed how the project data could be repurposed to create an explorable network diagram of the international cyber capacity building community.  For this post, I’ve repeated that network mapping, adding the latest project information.  This is what the network looks like now:

International cyber security capacity building network as at October 2019.
The international cyber capacity network mapped with 500 projects

As before, you can explore the network here.

So, what has changed?  The most notable difference is that the largest node in the network is no longer the UK (as a funder) but the International Telecommunications Union (as an implementer). The behind-the-scenes reason for this is that the ITU gave an intern the task of identifying every project they had run and sending that information to the GFCE.  This resulted in the number of their projects in the database increasing from 9 to 147.  That is more than any other organisation has submitted or, as far as we know, has run.

Reaching an accurate picture

In this early phase of data collection we should anticipate big changes in the network diagram, as batches of missing projects are uploaded in bulk.  However, sometime next year I expect us to have gathered all the big handfuls of old projects.  At this point the diagram should settle to a (fairly) complete and accurate picture of the international cyber capacity building network.  Any changes to the diagram after this point will reflect real time changes in the partnerships between countries and organisations as they happen. 

I expect the settled network to only change slowly, but these changes may nonetheless reveal some interesting trends, such as new countries or regions – for example central Africa – appearing in the community network for the first time.  Or the gradual emergence of new themes of capacity building.

Mapping the network can change the network

Even better than simply tracking projects, this mapping effort is directly influencing whether new countries enter the capacity building community and thereby benefit from international support. 

At the GFCE 2018 Annual Meeting, a workshop on Africa looked at a map of projects on the continent – using the GFCE database – and saw that many countries had not yet been part of any project.  There were large blank spaces in the map, especially in central Africa.  These countries were not part of the community network.

The conclusion of the conversation that meeting started was that the GFCE should do more to connect with those countries not in the network.  For example, by holding a meeting in Africa.  That in turn led to the Africa Union Commission kindly offering to host the 2019 Annual Meeting in Addis Ababa this October. 

Five different organisations worked together to offer sponsorship for two officials from every AU member to attend the Annual Meeting.   The result was that 35 African countries joined the conference to discuss and collaborate on cyber capacity building.  How that event went will be the subject for a future post.

Keep watching this space

If you have read this far then it may mean you are one of the people whose life this project database is meant to make a little bit easier.  Your work life that is. I make no big claims as to what project mapping can do for your personal life.

If you are one of those people then please do check out the Cybil Portal, the data visualisation demo site or the explorable network diagram on this blog and let me know what you think and how we can make them better. 

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