HUMAN PRACTICES: SILVER
As part of our human practices, we engaged with potential Key. coli buyers and users to understand the impact our product could have on public security, and to plan future improvements to make sure that it can safely serve the public interest.
We invited Tinesh Chhaya to Nottingham for an interview. Tinesh is the vice president of Risk IQ, a Californian based digital threat management company, board member of State Private, a British business-consumer email encryption company, and owner of Decipher Cyber, a professional services and innovation led technology company.
We also presented and discussed our project at Tech Nottingham, a monthly meetup for people working in software around Nottingham, where individuals of all backgrounds, including potential investors and industry experts, share ideas and opinions on new technologies.
Interview with Tinesh Chhaya
From this interview, the team received a lot of insight into how Key. coli could be taken out of the lab environment and be used in the real world. Such points taken away are:
- Experts see Key. coli as impenetrable - "... it's bacteria and it's impenetrable"
- Experts aren't too worried about the safety aspect if the capsule is guaranteed to not break - "... it's contained in a capsule and as there are no issues with the capsule breaking"
- Experts want to see Key. coli not only just be used for the corporate environment but also integrated into day to day life - "...everyday scenario with an everyday person."
- As long as we guarantee that it is impenetrable, most organisations won't care about the science - " I think for most cooperates and commercial organisations, certainly mid-sized organisations, not really."
- Experts are concerned with the ease of using Key. coli and think it should be very easy to use - "... delivery model is easy to use."
Furthermore, the team was able to get an outsider's perspective on Key. coli, which helped raise awareness on issues such as the ease of our key design and safety. This lead to improvements on the key design and us to consider using some measures to kill the bacteria in case of exposure.
Vikram: Let's begin the interview with a little bit of formalities, I'm Vikram and I will be taking this interview. I am the modeller for the iGEM of Nottingham. What is your name, your role and responsibilities?
Tinesh: Hi Vikram. My name is Tinesh, my current role, I have 3 roles at the moment, I am the vice president of a Californian based digital threat management company in London, where I run both the business development function and delivery function across the UK. In addition, I sit on the board of non-exec director for a British cyber company called State Private, and they are a business-consumer email encryption company. And finally, I own my own company Decipher Cyber which is a professional services and innovation led technology company.
Vikram: How do you think we can improve our idea or make it more robust?
Tinesh: Having seen what I seen today, I don't necessarily think there are any improvements to made in the actual security element of it because from what I've seen it sits within the cyber from a label perspective but from a delivery perspective it doesn't because it's bacteria and it's impenetrable so I don't think we can improve on that but we will find that out soon enough
Vikram: What things are you looking for when you look at key coli
Tinesh: For me, it would be applications for how we use this in a corporate environment and as well, as potentially in an everyday scenario with an everyday person. So those 2 areas are two main areas which are key for me.
Vikram: Do you think bacteria in a physical device is something people would be happy with? Do you think its safe? How could we improve safety?
Tinesh: As long as the delivery model is easy to use and can be adopted by everyday people, that's my only concern. As far as the safety of it, it's contained in a capsule and as there are no issues with the capsule breaking and so on and so forth. But as long as its easily adoptable by an end user, I don't see a challenge.
Vikram: If you were using the device, would you want to know everything about the science or would you be happy if someone told you it was safe?
Tinesh: Myself, someone from cyber and someone from sciences would want to know the ins and outs but I think for most cooperates and commercial organisations, certainly mid-sized organisations, not really. First off, they wouldn't have people who understand science and the science behind it so it would be out their comfort zone so they would bring people in but, from a cyber perspective, if it hits certain markers, helps mitigates certain risks and adds extra measure of security control whether that be physical, building, access or authentication, then they wouldn't necessarily need to know the science. they would be comfortable to see it in a live environment, seeing it doing it's thing, it would be happy.
Tech Nottingham talk
Vikram talked at this event, introducing Key. coli and leading the following up discussions with questions from the public. Reception of our idea had mixed outcomes.
This involved going to a Tech Nottingham event and talking to industry experts and technology enthusiasts about Key.Coli. For 5 minutes, a member from the team spoke to the room and received questions. Generally speaking, the reception to Key.Coli was mixed: speaking afterwards, some people seemed very enthusiastic about using bacteria as a password system whereas other people were highly critical and asked questions, to which the team answered. After the Question Answer session, the reception was far more positive.
This experience was valuable as it gave the team practice on public speaking and conducting a public question session. This is invaluable as at the Jamboree, the team will have to exercise the same skills during the presentation. Furthermore, the public brought up a lot of concerns about safety and practical issues such as what if someone steals the capsule, which made the team think about how they could tackle these issues more effectively. And lastly, it allowed the team to gauge public interest in the project, which fortunately, was very much so.
This experience was valuable as it gave the team practice on public speaking and conducting a public question session. This is invaluable as at the jamboree, the team will have to exercise the same skills during the presentation. Furthermore, the public brought up a lot of concerns about safety and practical issues such as what if someone steals the capsule, which made the team think about how they could tackle these issues more effectively. And lastly, it allowed the team to gauge public interest in the project, which fortunately, was very much so.
UK & Edinburgh meetups
As it is our first year competing in iGEM, we made it a priority to build connections with other teams. We went to meetups in London and Edinburgh to meet some of the UK teams. We had a great time and got to learn about lots of interesting projects!
As safety concern regarding pathogenicity of the bacteria were raised by the public, a potential marketing strategy should aim at making clear that the organism used are completely safe to health and environment. Furthermore, the bacteria in question is TOP10 E. coli, which is a strain which is used extensively in labs and is out-competed when outside the lab. This means if released, it is expected to be eradicated by other species of bacteria. Another concern was the ease in delivery as Tinesh and the public wanted a very easy to use system that anyone could use. This was taken on board and implemented into our key design: simply click it and use. Another take-away point was that people were not convinced that Key. coli was random. This could be investigated when the process is automated so a large number of random numbers can be generated to investigate they are random.