Programme NELSON, Information Warfare, Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence

Royal Navy: NELSON Data Platform Product Development

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications
5 SME, 9 large

Completed applications

Completed applications
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Monday 16 April 2018
Deadline for asking questions Monday 23 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Monday 30 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work Programme NELSON was formed to rapidly accelerate the exploitation of advanced data analytics and AI in the Royal Navy. A core element is to deliver a common maritime big-data platform.
This requirement is to iteratively develop the Data Platform from its current alpha to an operationally capable and accreditable beta.
Latest start date Monday 14 May 2018
Expected contract length 7th May 2018 - 31st March 2019
Location South East England
Organisation the work is for Programme NELSON, Information Warfare, Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence
Budget range The procurement contract envelope is for up to £1.9m (inc VAT).

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The data platform is a fleet-wide, ship-agnostic big data layer that runs in a virtualised environment. 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.
Problem to be solved Traditionally, an analytical application has been tightly coupled with the data that drove the processes in that application. 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.

The Royal Navy requires Business Analysis, Delivery and Product Management, Development, QA and Continuous Delivery expertise to continue the rapid development of the NELSON Data Platform to iteratively improve the environment for data analytics.
Who the users are and what they need to do As a developer of an analytical capability for the Royal Navy, I need real-time and historic data available for my application through a well-documented and managed API, so that I can quickly and iteratively create applications for use on Royal Navy platforms.
Early market engagement The NELSON Data Platform was presented at the DSEi 17 conference, and industry days for the Exercise INFORMATION WARRIOR 18.
Any work that’s already been done The Data Platform has been iteratively developed over the last year through discovery and alpha phases. A prospective bidders’ presentation with Q&A will happen on Friday 20th April 2018 at Portsdown Technology Park to demonstrate the current technology, and enable bidders to understand the current code base. Bidders should email by Wednesday 18th April to attend this event.
Existing team Test and evaluation infrastructure has been (and is planned to continue) to be provided by QinetiQ. Development of the Data Platform has been completed through a mixture of fixed work packages by a variety of industry suppliers, and through a team of civil servants and military personnel.
Current phase Alpha

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place NELSON has an office at Portsdown Technology Park for c.8 people, with access to conference facilities for up to 30 people.

It is anticipated the team will need a second ancillary office to accommodate all the team which would need to be provided by the successful supplier.

Our current remote working arrangements enable this, but any ancillary site would need suitable network connectivity and conference facilities.
Working arrangements The supplier should work in a seamless collaborative environment with the military and civil servant team members. Automation of all processes (such as TDD and CI) from data ingestion to testing and delivery will be a key deliverable. Agile ceremonies and processes will be adhered to and continuously improved through retrospectives. Expenses will be limited at the standard MoD rates. Frequent travel between Portsmouth, supplier site(s) and users (e.g., Northwood, Devonport) should be expected. Fortnightly sprints will be the basis for planning and delivery, with the whole team expected to be co-located on retrospective/show and tell days.
Security clearance All staff and project members must be SC, and there is a need for a small proportion of the team to have DV clearance. It will be required for a Programme NELSON Data Sharing and Non-Disclosure agreement to be signed.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions Other conditions may apply to this contract, such as the list below; full text can be found here:

DEFCON 5J (Edn 18/11/16)
DEFCON 76 (Edn 12/06)
DEFCON 501 (Edn 11/17)
DEFCON 502 (Edn 05/17)
DEFCON 513 (Edn 11/16)
DEFCON 522 (Edn 11/17)
DEFCON 658 (Edn 10/17)
DEFCON 659A (Edn 02/17)
DEFCON 660 (Edn 12/15)
DEFCON 703 (Edn 08/13)

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrable track record of rapidly improving technical maturity of product development through effective application of tools, people and processes
  • At least five years Agile product development including Business Analysis, Project Management, Development & QA
  • Evidence of working in blended teams with clients and other suppliers/partners as technical subject matter experts, delivering change through effective collaboration and leadership
  • At least five years of cutting edge development of data services using best of breed data technologies (e.g., Spark, GraphQL, Hadoop)
  • Prior success in delivering high quality APIs, services and applications
  • Experience of implementing, maintaining, enhancing and utilising, highly effective automated testing frameworks
  • Continuous Integration and DevOps experience using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Proven experience of understanding integration with BI visualization dashboards both custom and off the shelf
  • Proven experience of understanding the data requirements of data scientists.
  • Experience of delivering highly scalable and resilient data and analytics system on common cloud providers
  • Understanding and experience of Royal Navy infrastructure and data, and wider Defence infrastructure and data.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • At least five years’ experience of building secure, performant APIs for Big Data / Data Warehouse solutions.
  • Proven track record of defining and implementing coding standards and improving code quality iteratively to deliver measurable business benefit.
  • Proven track record in defining and implementing test strategies in agile environments with a high degree of automation.
  • Understanding and experience of relevant Ministry of Defence ICT policy (e.g., JSP 604)

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 3
Proposal criteria
  • Approach, methodology and evidence of relevant past work as detailed in suppliers' proposal and presentation
  • Relevant expertise and experience of key team members
  • Ability to immediately start work with full team resources with the required skills, knowledge, and experience needed to complete the work including roles
  • Demonstrate the ability to flex resources rapidly through partnerships to provide niche skill & expertise such as cutting edge DevOps technologies
  • Ability to concisely frame and articulate the problems we want to solve
  • Evidence of successful working in blended teams with clients and other suppliers
  • Demonstration of depth of understanding of our requirements
  • Relevance and quality of presentation
  • Answers to questions during the interview/presentation stage
  • Value for money
  • Hybrid team composing of staff from no less than three separate organisations to ensure technology diversity
  • Written proposals should be no longer than 2,000 words.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Proven track record of supporting diversity and inclusion in STEM
  • Work as a "one team" with our organisation and other suppliers
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members
  • Agile and flexible to changing/uncertain requirements
  • Transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Experience in developing an agile working culture
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Focus on rapid, iterative delivery based on user needs
  • Contribute to an inclusive working environment
Payment approach Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Question and answer session

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Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Are we able to find out who developed the current alpha capability? The current alpha capability has been delivered through a variety of contracts, sprints, hackathons and internally by civil servants as a series of interconnected minimal viable products. As a result, the easiest way to understand who has delivered what capability is to examine the users of git commits; visibility of the code base will be available at the Q&A session on 20th April.
2. Can you confirm whether you expect suppliers to form teams of at least three companies or whether the Authority intends to form a team from three or more separate submissions? It is expected that suppliers will form teams. The Authority will only select one final winning bid which will contain a team.
3. Can you confirm what role QinetiQ will be playing in the final team? In addition to providing the test and evaluation will QinetiQ also be allowed to bid under this opportunity to provide the delivery team? QinetiQ have and will continue to provide the physical infrastructure required for the testing and evaluation of the Data Platform, including access to networks and sensors (e.g., radars), through the Long Term Partnering Agreement. QinetiQ is not a supplier on the DOS2 framework.
4. Can you confirm which programming languages and toolsets have been used so far and whether there will be any restriction in the programming languages and toolsets to be used in delivery under this project? This list is not exhaustive, but gives a general impression of programming languages, frameworks and tools used currently.

OS - primarily linux
IaaC - terraform, puppet, bash, docker
Data - Nifi, Spark, Kafka, variety of db technologies
API - GraphQL
Analytics - R, Python
Other - Go, Javascript, git

Restrictions may come from Defence policy, and NELSON endeavours to re-use Defence investment where possible. Nonetheless, individual technology decisions reside with the programme team, including being open minded to changing current technologies.
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