What the SAIC spin off means for the future
In these tumultuous times for the defense industry, with demands for increased innovation pulling against an anchor of fiscal austerity, Rob Zitz, Leidos senior vice president and chief systems architect for the national security sector, believes solutions cannot be more of the same. You have to differentiate.
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) decided differentiation meant reinvention. On Sept. 27, 2013, SAIC spun off its technical, engineering, and enterprise information technology services business, which retained the legacy SAIC name. What remained was a science and technology company focused on national security, health, and engineering that was renamed Leidos. The creation of two separate companies unlocks potential opportunities for more business by doing away with concerns about organizational conflicts of interest.
“Before the split, SAIC was 1,000 flowers blooming and faced internal competition,” Zitz said. “Leidos now has optimized portfolios, shared resources, and leveraged technology.”
The new name, Leidos, is derived from kaleidoscope, and the company says it is meant to evoke the effort to view problems and offer solutions from different perspectives.
“When it comes to geospatial intelligence needs, there are many similarities between homeland security users and traditional military and intelligence users,” Zitz said. “Everyone needs geospatial information for planning, situational awareness, and a common operating picture, whether they’re in an operations center or on the ground as a tactical operator or a first responder.”
Often operating in remote land and sea areas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for example, uses GEOINT and Multi-INT technology developed for the defense and intelligence communities, in part by Leidos. CBP relies on commercial satellites and both manned and unmanned airborne assets to collect imagery, including real-time, full-motion video.
“CBP does coherent change detection,” Zitz said. “It aggregates information along with myriad sources into common operating pictures, it is tipping and cueing across multiple sources, and it is vectoring interdiction assets based on the combined information flow.”
As federal customers gather more and more Big Data, the problems inherent with using, storing, retrieving, and securing it grow as well. Leidos builds cybersecurity into its system designs from the outset.
“In today’s dynamic GEOINT environment, analysts and operators need to locate critical data fast, see real-time trends across multiple sources, identify behavioral patterns, and discover vital relationships,” Zitz said. “We understand the need to provide ubiquitous access to GEOINT by creating an intuitive, secure, online environment that facilitates effortless and seamless access to data.”
Leidos meets this need with its DigitalEdge platform, which ingests GEOINT and other intelligence and open source data, auto-scales it to handle velocity streaming, and enriches it. DigitalEdge then sends the information to an open source storage platform.
Leidos also offers Scale2Insight for establishing baseline models that can be used to determine behavior deviation and predict future behavior, the essence of activity-based intelligence. Additionally, Leidos’ DigitalEcho solution can search and process data from native language sources.
Leidos tools developed in support of defense and intelligence needs have also proven valuable for health services and disaster relief agencies. For example, problems such as air pollution and the spread of air-, water-, and soil-borne pathogens can be tracked using cloud computing, web services, GEOINT, and Big Data processing.
“Today’s portable smart computing devices, tied with live GPS satellites, mapping applications, and high bandwidth telecommunications, have greatly enabled the medical community’s first responders,” Zitz said.
The growing number of GEOINT users has driven the demand for open source, open architecture to operate in a plug-and-play environment.
“We are constantly interacting with our government customers, others in industry, and across academia to ensure we understand the gaps and also the potential solutions offered elsewhere, with an aim of teaming with all sizes of companies to bring the best solutions forward,” Zitz said.
Many of those partnerships are forged at USGIF events such as GEOINT Community Week and the GEOINT Symposium.
“USGIF is a great resource for companies to come together for business-to-business relationships,” Zitz said.
Featured image: Leidos provides real-time views of the battlespace through multi-INT capabilities with the Pursuit and Exploitation System for multi-functional teams. Image courtesy of Leidos