Communications and Marketing Director, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence
23 Mar 2023
A lot can happen in a year. And for us here at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, 2022 was a bigger year than most.
February marked the first anniversary of the launch of Digital Intelligence, which integrated seven businesses under one common vision – to make society safer and more prosperous by delivering digital advantage. We brought together world-class digital, data and cyber capabilities from across BAE Systems, comprising almost 5,000 people in 16 countries. This incorporated several strategic acquisitions including:
In-Space Missions - a UK company which designs, builds and operates satellites and satellite systems
PPM - a developer and manufacturer of high-end electronics
Techmodal- a data consultancy and digital services company
Twelve months on, and we’ve already made significant progress on our mission to deliver digital solutions that enable rapid, data-driven decision-making. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
First and foremost, we’ve grown our global team substantially with 1,100 new hires in the first 12 months. We’ve also invested in alternative training programmes to help people upskill and bring people into the business from diverse backgrounds and with alternative career paths.
Partnerships with various social enterprises have been central to our recruitment strategy. For example, we hired 15 women into entry-level software engineer roles through our partnership with Code First Girls. This has been coupled with our traditional Apprenticeships and Graduate Scheme routes that brought in 166 graduates and 28 apprentices in 2022, contributing towards BAE Systems’ near 2,000 early careers hires last year.
From a capability perspective, we’ve hit several milestones across our key target verticals:
In September 2022, we announced our first multi-sensor low Earth orbit satellite cluster which will provide secure digital military intelligence from 2024. Known as Azalea™, the group of satellites will use a range of sensors to collect real-time visual, radar and radio frequency (RF) data, which will be analysed by on-board machine learning on edge processors to securely deliver the resulting intelligence anywhere in the world.
As well as supporting the Government’s recently published Defence Space Strategy, which named Earth observation as a priority area to help protect and defend UK interests, the programme will also boost accessibility to sustainable innovation. Unlike conventional single-purpose satellites, the cluster can be fully reconfigured while in orbit in the same way a smartphone installs a new app. This expands the lifecycle of the satellites and ensures it can deliver future customer missions.
We recently secured a £38 million contract over three years with the Home Office to support the development of advanced risk assessment capabilities, which form a central part of the 2025 UK Border Strategy.
Faced with over 300 million passenger journeys and 385 million tonnes of freight each year alone, the Border Force has a significant challenge on its hands. By developing advanced risk analytics services in partnership with the Home Office, which securely connects and analyses data in real-time, the ‘Cerberus’ programme will provide the Border Force and related agencies with clear, actionable and secure intelligence. This will allow them to make informed and timely decisions about potential risks and identify criminal activity trends.
August 2022 saw the launch of NetVIPR™, a deployable networking product that provides intelligent and secure military communication networks. The modern, multi-domain battlefield that comprises land, sea, air, space and cyber is hugely complex. As such, the pressure is on militaries to maintain control of their communications.
With a software-based ‘plug and play’ approach, NetVIPR provides uninterrupted network access and data transmission in the most challenging environments. It uses the full spectrum of communications infrastructure to avoid being solely reliant on satellites or fixed infrastructure – linking everything from small reconnaissance drones to combat vehicles, fighter jets, aircraft carriers or military commands.
Other key contributions to the defence sector include: helping the MOD establish the operation of its new Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre (DAIC); supporting the Royal Navy’s digital transformation with data science expertise; and extending our contract with the Navy to experiment in Anti-Submarine Warfare.
Working with the NCA:
The National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Child Endangerment and Online Protection (CEOP) team and BAE Systems Digital Intelligence were awarded the Productive Partnerships Civil Service Award, for the excellent collaboration between NCA officers and BAE Systems Ltd working in partnership with international partners to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Officers from the NCA, BAE Systems’ data analysts and data architects worked together in a blended team to develop tooling that assisted and continues to assist, in the identification of child sexual abuse offenders globally. The intelligence gained from this tooling has enabled the safeguarding of hundreds of children across the world. It has also provided novel insight into the use of the internet in CSAE offending, which is being used to influence industry partners and reduce offending worldwide.
As you can see, it’s been a busy year. Our teams have worked incredibly hard to deliver digital advantage to our customers and partners. But we’re not planning on slowing down in 2023. In fact, we see the next 12 months as being key to our strategic growth.
Space will continue to be a core focus area during the build phase of Azalea ahead of the launch of the first cluster in 2024. The expertise brought in by the In-Space Missions team complements our existing advanced technologies and cyber capabilities, making us ideally placed to lead the industry forwards over the next 12 months and beyond.
This expertise will also become an integral part of our work around Multi-Domain Integration (MDI), which is all about enabling the future of the modern battlespace by breaking down data silos to gain digital advantage. MDI will be a central focus as defence continues to modernise and transform in line with the tumultuous geopolitical landscape.
We’re investing significantly in product development to overcome the challenges of Multi-Domain Integration and bring together different sources of information across the five defence domains – land, are, sea, space and cyber. Stay tuned for some important product launches coming later this year.
So yes, a lot has happened in a year. But I know I speak for everyone at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence when I say that the best is yet to come. Here’s to the next 12 months!
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