The government has signed a £3.75m contract to expand, improve and, ultimately, bring in house the EDGE data platform built to support the NHS Test and Trace programme.
EDGE, which stands for Environment for Data Gathering and Engineering, was developed last year by BAE Systems, with which government spent over £5m on contracts related to the creation and support of the platform.
The Hampshire-headquartered defence firm has now been retained for a further one-year deal, which commenced at the start of this month and covers the addition of new data sets to the EDGE system and improvement of existing inputs. The platform will then be transitioned into the operations of the recently created UK Health Security Agency.
Before this migration takes place, BAE has been contracted to provide “ongoing EDGE support processes and service management to ensure that the environment’s availability is maximised and that the quality and stability of the data is maintained”.
The firm is also expected to support the “onboarding of further data sets” into the platform, including information streams related to hospital admissions and new coronavirus variants of concern.
The £3.75m deal, which runs until on 30 September 2022 and includes an optional six-month extension, also tasks the company with assisting in the “development of tooling and processes to support the environment to reduce the amount of manual intervention to process and support the data”.
The contract further requires BAE to “support the enhancement of existing data feeds by additional processing or cleansing based on feedback from users and improved knowledge of the data used and information required”.
In addition to the Test and Trace data housed in the EDGE system, the DHSC also wishes to bring in information from an adult social care dashboard, currently managed by data analytics firm Palantir.
Once this process is complete, EDGE will be moved into a new system within UKHSA called the Enterprise Data and Analytics Platform – or eDAP. This migration will be supported by BAE.
The newly signed contract with the defence firm said: “[The specified] outcomes will support a comprehensive data environment from which the data and insight teams across the UKHSA can extract insight and information as required. Development will be undertaken via a series of two-week sprints, to ensure that the priority items are addressed first.”
Alongside the technical objectives of the deal, BAE will “provide ongoing guidance and support to the NHS physical and personnel teams across pol icy development and direction” in the area of data security.
This will include providing input for an upcoming “operational requirements review” of a diagnostic facility opened by the government in Leamington Spa last year as one of two “megalabs”, each of which can process upwards of 300,000 PCR coronavirus tests each day.
UKHSA was formed earlier this year and supersedes Public Health England. The newly created entity also incorporates the Test and Trace programme, as well as the Joint Biosecurity Centre – a body set up by the government at the start of the coronavirus crisis to help drive pandemic response.
Sam Trendall is the editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where a version of this article was first published.