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You are here IRAHS Symposium

International Risk Assessment & Horizon Scanning Symposium, 19-20 Mar 2007, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

Organized by

The Centre of Excellence for National Security
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University

In partnership with

The National Security Coordination Secretariat
Defence Science Technology Agency

Introduction: The Changing Threat Environment
The current threat environment is marked by complexity and uncertainty and this has rendered the traditional responses of national intelligence and security agencies less effective than before. Today, thanks to what Thomas Friedman calls the “democratizations” of finance, information and technology many nations are vulnerable to a range of threats including transnational terrorism, financial shocks and supply chain fragility.

Key Trends
The spread of dangerous technologies means that terrorists and insurgency groups have greater access to cheap, highly destructive weapons. Even relatively small groups can and do exploit new information technologies to create their own crude but effective intelligence capabilities – including high resolution space based imagery.

At the same time, the Jihadists appear to dominate the “battle space” of the Internet and use it increasingly for training, recruiting, funding, intelligence, planning and execution. Consequently future terrorist strikes may well be more lethal that what was witnessed on 11 September 2001.

Religiously-motivated transnational terrorism moreover is only part of the problem. As the SARS case in Singapore demonstrated, increasingly hard to foresee threats like pandemics may even pose a greater risk to entire societies than more traditional threats. The question is, how do national governments inform themselves about these threats in a timely manner?

The Problem With “Silos” and “Mindsets”
The bottom line is that strategic assessments must provide leaders with the foresight to anticipate the latest problems. Without being able to anticipate the nature of the threats they face, leaders cannot react intelligently. Unfortunately, most of the intelligence changes made in the US and elsewhere after the 11 September 2001 attacks have merely reflected the changes of the past. Reduced to the most general level, the most recent round of changes has done little more than rework previous organizational wiring diagrams. Worse, often they have added another layer of bureaucracy to organizations that are already hindered in their effectiveness by over-centralized systems.

Intelligence failures have always been grouped around two main causes. The first, repeated by the 9/11 Commission in the United States, is the lack of information sharing between government agencies, commonly referred to as “stove-piping” or silos. The second problem is common to the national structure of most states. A stubborn “mindset” in analysts, managers and leaders - who believe that only their way of working is the right way - means that making changes is difficult without a cataclysmic event to prompt it. The problem is that the next cataclysmic event may be so terrible that no one would be around to study the “lessons” afterward.

One Way Out: Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS)

In July 2004, the Singapore government introduced its new Strategic Framework for National Security. This document outlined the long-term policy response to the challenges posed by transnational terrorism and other threats. It called for the development of a networked and coordinated approach to the fight against terror, one linking the government, the people and all sectors of society together in a common effort. This is why Singapore has embarked on the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS) program. The RAHS program, encompassing a unique combination of cutting edge concepts, methodologies and technological solutions, will seek to empower governments to effectively detect faint signals, expedite inter-agency sharing and foster informed analysis.

The RAHS program offers an excellent opportunity for national governments to surmount the two major obstacles to effective policy advice to senior leaders: stove piping and mind sets.

The IRAHS Symposium,19-20 March 2007, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
On 19-20 March 2007, Professor S Jayakumar, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence and Mr. Peter Ho, Head of the Singapore Civil Service and among other things, Permanent Secretary for National Security and Intelligence Co-ordination, will host a two-day International Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (IRAHS) Symposium in Singapore to introduce the new ground-breaking RAHS system. The Symposium will be organized by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), which is part of the world-famous S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. CENS will be supported in this effort by its partners, the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) and the Defence Science Technology Agency (DSTA) as well as corporate sponsors, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. The IRAHS Symposium will feature a stellar international and local list of presenters to explain the concepts, methods and technology that will drive this first-of-its-kind RAHS system. In addition, there will be an update of the progress to date, of the Singapore RAHS project, to an audience of invited senior government officials and private sector CEOs from Singapore and overseas. As an added attraction, the Symposium will be complemented by a technology showcase to profile recent developments and advances in horizon scanning technology.

With the support of:


Click here to download Programme Hightlights and Speaker Profile in PDF Format

Click here for video on the RAHS Project


Nanyang Technological University, Blk S4, Level B4, Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798. Tel: (65) 6790 6982, Fax: (65) 6793 2991
For More Information, Email: wwwrsis@ntu.edu.sg © 2007 S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. All Rights Reserved.
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