Royal Navy opens state-of-the-art data lab in Portsmouth to develop new military 'apps'

Pictured is: Admiral Tony Radakin, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-6715)
Pictured is: Admiral Tony Radakin, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-6715)
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A HI-TECH digital laboratory developing state-of-the-art apps for the Royal Navy has been unveiled in Portsmouth.

The multi-million pound hub, located in the heart of Semaphore Tower, on Portsmouth Naval Base, is the first of its kind.

Pictured is: Aaron Cameron, a service designer at Nelson.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-5101)

Pictured is: Aaron Cameron, a service designer at Nelson.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-5101)

Codenamed ‘Nelson’, the centre is filled with computers, large monitors and staffed by about 60 of the nation’s brightest digital specialists.

It’s purpose is to bring together the vast data gathered by military systems and create revolutionary new software and apps designed to make the lives of sailors easier and safer.

First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin official opened the centre and insisted the lab was helping to forge an ‘even better fighting force’.

‘The threats that we face require us to embrace the future and a digital approach to be even better at what we already do,’ he said.

Sam Warner, user researcher for Nelson.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-5037)

Sam Warner, user researcher for Nelson.''Picture: Sarah Standing (060919-5037)

Specialists have been working alongside serving military personnel to work out what apps and software are most needed, designing everything from the ground up.

They will mesh together information gathered from across the fleet and combine that with deep-learning software to predict when a warship’s engines will need replacing or when a ship might need to refuel in different environments, among other things.

Aaron Cameron, a service designer from Brighton, is working on an app for 1710 Naval Air Squadron which shows which helicopters might need repairing and when, based on computer data and predictive software.

The 27-year-old said the system could also be used to help protect royalty.

‘If we’ve got the Queen coming down and we want to make sure we put her on the safest helicopter possible, then this is the kind of system that we use to start making those decisions,’ he said.

Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender is already trialling the system while on deployment in the Gulf.

Lieutenant Commander Jim Briscoe, Nelson programme manager, said the system was all about making life easier for sailors at the touch of a button, reducing ‘dull’ data-gathering tasks.

‘We are no longer asking humans, but a machine to fuse data together, get the inference, and make sense of it and giving the humans a few recommendations or options to choose from,’ he added.