How does the MoD deploy IoT at scale while enforcing an uncompromising approach to security? Techerati talks with head of innovation, Danny Wooton
As head of innovation at the Ministry of Defence, Danny Wootton is managing an IoT project that seeks to connect the UK’s armed forces under one system. That is, its monumentally expensive assets and invaluable human capital – soldiers. The goals? To improve supply chain efficiency on the one hand, but also to use predictive analytics to monitor both the human and material elements of its operation to improve asset performance and predict downtime.
Danny nevertheless is keen to approach his task as any other CTO might. And he is quick to underscore that the MoD is not as dissimilar to other industries as one might intuitively think.
“A large amount of the activities of the MoD are not that different to other large organisations in both public and private sector,” he says.
Frontline of Innovation
Danny joined MoD as head of innovation for Information Systems & Services in August 2016, working with the ISS teams and the broader defence community to create a proactive, repeatable and agile innovation model for ICT across MoD.
The activities that constitute the innovation team’s remit are innumerable and include technology scouting & “horizon scanning”, partner & SME engagements, leveraging innovation from wider industry, and running internal/external innovation hackathons.
Prior to joining MoD, Danny was director of IoT and Innovation at CGI and a large part of his role with the MoD is managing their IoT project.
Like wider industry – finance, healthcare, automotive to name a few, the MoD quickly realised the benefits that IoT deployment at scale across the defence ecosystem could bring. Namely, efficiency gains and effectiveness across its supply chain, transforming MoD locations into fully aware buildings; and using sensed devices for predictive preventative maintenance of its assets and workforce.
The MoD is already starting to improve the performance of its assets at base locations and in theatre (military-speak for areas with active military events).
The MoD’s approach is to pinpoint the business value and deploy at scale across the organisation in an affordable and secure way. Even though, due to the mission-critical nature of its property (buildings, weaponry, ships etc.) it will always have a need for bespoke defence solutions, they still try wherever possible to leverage industry standards and common platforms.
“We need to focus on the benefits and not just get distracted by the technology, and therefore enable the identification of insights and then taking action, ideally in an automated way, on those insights has to be a fundamental part of our approach, otherwise, we are just ‘connecting stuff’,” Danny says.
Naturally, security is a chief consideration for the MoD. Danny says they are looking at “different approaches” to securing IoT such as a securing the data and connection rather than the device itself.