Royal Navy plans fleet-wide £2m big-data platform

Supplier sought for project to develop NELSON tool


Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

The Royal Navy is seeing a supplier for a £2m project to develop a big-data platform to be used across its fleet.

The project to develop to completion the NELSON platform, which was publicly unveiled at a conference last year, has already been through its Discovery and Alpha phases. Over the next year, the Navy intends to further develop the platform which, when complete and operational, will allow all military ships to access and analyse relevant data from a single virtualised central hub.

“Traditionally, an analytical application has been tightly coupled with the data that drove the processes in that application,” the Navy said. “This led to every application needing its own pot of data, which resulted in duplication. As different suppliers were involved with different systems, data standards were inconsistent, making the growing pots of data incompatible. This has resulted in less effective analytical applications.”

Over the course of a contract that will run from May 2018 to March 2019, the Navy is looking to work with a supplier that can provide “business analysis, delivery and product management, development, QA (quality assurance), and continuous delivery”. 

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The NELSON platform will, ultimately, need to provide Navy analytics applications developers with “real-time and historic data available… through a well-documented and managed API”.

“The data platform is a fleet-wide, ship-agnostic big data layer that runs in a virtualised environment,” the Navy added. “It will transform the analytical capability of a ship’s systems by making all appropriate data available in one environment. This will enable better analytics using more data, but will also reduce costs of integration, and improve agility of upgrades.”

The NELSON programme has an office at Portsdown Technology Park in Portsmouth, with room for about eight full-time employees. The chosen supplier will be expected to primarily work from “a second, ancillary office”. 

“The supplier should work in a seamless collaborative environment with the military and civil-servant team members,” the Navy added. “Automation of all processes… from data ingestion to testing and delivery will be a key deliverable.”

Potential suppliers have until 23 April to bid for the project, which is being tendered via the government’s Digital Marketplace. A presentation of the work on NELSON so far will take place at Portsdown on Friday 20 April. Attendees will also be able to ask questions and view demonstrations of the platform’s capabilities so far.  To attend this event suppliers should send an email to register their interest by Wednesday 18 April.


Sam Trendall

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