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Erwin van Slooten, commercial manager at Unica Special Security Projects

‘Our Defence Monitoring and Security System is designed like a made-to-measure suit’

The combination Unica and Thales is set to replace 45 different monitoring and security systems at the Ministry of Defence with a single integrated security system. The new Defence Monitoring and Security System (DBBS) offers the maximum security level and will be introduced at almost all 170 locations of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Netherlands Army, the Royal Netherlands Airforce and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee.

Our additional solution is custom-made

Erwin van Slooten has been with Unica since 2018. He was taken on as a sales manager and is currently employed at Unica Special Security Projects as commercial manager and department manager engineering. “We have been working on this project for six years, but service provision only officially started following handover of the pilot location. In other words, we are right at the start of the project,” he says.

Erwin is regularly asked why it takes so long to roll out a new monitoring and security system for the Defence organisation. He is happy to explain. “DBBS is a hugely complex project. We are converting no less than 45 old systems into a single integrated security system. That takes a great deal of time and adaptability. The Ministry of Defence wanted a commercial off-the-shelf product, a ready-made solution, more like an off-the-shelf suit. However, the reality is far more complex. The task set Unica and Thales was to supply a system that will still deliver the desired level of performance in fifteen years’ time. Our additional solutions in service provision are often custom-made. By designing a made-to-measure suit, it will still fit in fifteen years’ time, and still satisfy all the requirements and wishes.”

Tighter security requirements

Since the DBBS contract was signed, the world has undergone fundamental change. The war in Ukraine and a constant flow of new technological developments have all impacted on the work. And that has also led to changes to the requirements imposed on the systems. “The DBBS programme was the subject of a functional tender procedure. Any new release must first complete an accreditation stage in which an IATO (Interim Approval to Operate) is issued by the Security Authority (BA). The BA tests whether everything is correctly implemented according to the Defence organisation’s latest security policy. Once all requirements and standards are satisfied, additional locations can be connected to the DBBS. The accreditation requirements are then updated and further tightened up, as necessary. Although we still satisfy the original contract requirements, in this period of change that is sometimes not enough. As a consequence, we are required to constantly adapt and retune the system,” explains Erwin.

The new-build projects that have been applied for and completed introduce an additional dynamic to the DBBS programme. Many of these projects come with complex security requirements and high priority. Examples include projects developed for new weapons systems, such as the introduction of new aircraft types.

From customer to market

In his commercial role, Erwin is always forward-looking. In the future, he sees plenty of opportunities for Unica to implement projects that relate to DBBS. Erwin names one example: “The common focus for developments over the coming years will be sustainability. The Defence organisation, however, has a great deal of outdated real estate and will need to make up a huge backlog. In its own words, that places the Defence organisation on the eve of the largest renovation programme in its history. Much real estate will have to be sold off or made sustainable and we are there to offer assistance.”

According to Erwin, with its network of companies Unica can provide excellent support to the Defence organisation in improving the sustainability of existing real estate properties and with new-build projects, like the marine barracks to be opened in 2025 on the Kamp Nieuw-Milligen site. “Connecting this new location to the DBBS system is a fabulous challenge in itself. But a building needs more than just DBBS. For example: climate control systems, fire safety installations, and 230 Volt power supplies,” suggests Erwin. “Unica is able to supply all these installations, and has experience with General Security Requirements for Defence Contracts (ABDO) and the Defence organisation’s culture. By sharing this information across the board, we can offer optimum support to Defence in facing all its future real estate challenges.”

‘Since the project started six years ago, the world has changed enormously. That has had consequences for the requirements imposed on the system.’

Erwin van Slooten, commercial manager at Unica Special Security Projects

Steep learning curve

The Defence organisation, Unica and Thales are three very different organisations that are cooperating in a dynamic field of tension. “Definitely at the beginning we had to get to know each other, but now we are starting to make real progress together,” continues Erwin. “Together we have achieved huge advances in professionalisation, in particular in the field of process implementation and compliance, security awareness and guaranteeing information security. Our entire network of companies can benefit from the knowledge we have built up. Unica is often involved in projects requiring ABDO accreditation. In other words, Unica is a player in the highest echelons. And that is just the start.”