‘Crime-proof’ mobile phone competition launched

The Design Council, the Home Office and the Technology Strategy Board are launching a competition to develop new ways to secure mobile phones against thieves and fraudsters.

The Mobile Phone Security Challenge is offering a total of £400 000 to teams of designers and technology experts to spend six months developing designs and working up prototypes.

According to a recent survey by data protection expert Credant Technologies, 80 per cent of mobile phone users in the UK store data on their phones that could be used to steal their identities.

The threat of crime is likely to increase as m-commerce (transactions through mobiles) becomes more widespread in the UK.

The competition focuses on three key areas: making mobile phones harder to steal; making the data stored on mobile phones harder to steal; and making m-commerce more secure.

The deadline for applications is 22 May.

Shortlisted applicants will present to an expert panel, chaired by Simon Waterfall, co-founder of Poke, on 27 June, and four finalists will be announced on 29 June.

The finalists will develop prototypes over a six-month period, and these will be showcased in early 2010.

The challenge is part of Design Out Crime, an initiative from the Home Office’s Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council, and is also supported by the TSB. It is the first result of the Design Council’s recent partnership with the TSB.

David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, says, ‘21st-century society loves its gadgets, but the cleverer and cooler we make our products, the more they expose us and our children to serious crime, such as mugging, identity theft and bank fraud.

‘That’s why we are calling on our great wellspring of designers, technologists and manufacturers to help us all get ahead of the next crime wave and be more creative than criminals.’

Home Office minister Alan Campbell says, ‘The Design & Technology Alliance Against Crime and competitions like this are a key part of the Government’s drive for a greater emphasis on designing out crime.

‘By bringing together experts from industry and design we will continue to deliver innovative and practical solutions to real problems.’

For more information, visit http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/crime.

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