The centrality of data, the oil of the future

07 November 2022

Data has become both central and strategic, and must be protected and managed using digital interfaces to extract the maximum possible value. If data is the oil of the future, knowing how to manage digital information by collecting, processing and using it becomes a competitive advantage. Franco Ongaro, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Leonardo, discusses the topic in a long article published in the Corriere della Sera. An all-round overview of the digital revolution, touching on issues connected with Europe’s data protection strategy and specific initiatives, such as the Chips Act, created to strengthen Europe's technological leadership, as described by Carlo Cavazzoni, Head of Computational R&D at Leonardo. 

The convergence between the real and the digital dimension is creating a continuum that makes a data-driven culture truly strategic. What links smart cities, efficient public services, or industrial and technological transformations is the centrality of data, seen as the oil of the future, to be managed and protected in order to extract the maximum value possible and gain a real competitive advantage. Extracting value from data means driving the reorganisation of production processes and accelerating technological development, adopting a multi-domain perspective and ensuring the cyber security of our products and services. The speed at which this shift is taking place is unprecedented in modern history. Suffice it to say that the data collected over the last 18 months is equivalent to that collected throughout the history of mankind. This growth is set to increase in the future, as suggested by recent estimates according to which by 2027 Big Data Analytics will exceed the $100 billion mark.
 

 

Franco Ongaro, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Leonardo, discusses this topic - and more - in an interview with the Corriere della Sera. Extracting value from data means driving the reorganisation of production processes and accelerating technological development, adopting a multi-domain perspective and ensuring the cyber security of our products and services.

Leonardo: investment in infrastructure and Research & Development

Leonardo is focusing on convergence between the manufacturing and the digital spheres as a factor for transforming production and design models. This strategy is pursued with investments in new infrastructure such as the davinci-1 supercomputer, one of the world’s most powerful in the AD&S industry, capable of performing 5 million billion operations per second, and driving industrial digitisation.

200

200

servers
installed at Torre Fiumara in Genoa

5

5

million billion
operations per second

20

20

million
gigabytes of memory

20

20

researchers
engaged in its operations

Among the most powerful HPCs in the AD&S industry worldwide

Along the same lines, Leonardo has increased its R&D investments, which amounted to €1.8 billion in 2021, up 16.9% over the previous year. Today Leonardo collaborates with more than 90 research centres and universities across the globe, has activated around 50 PhDs, and in 2020 launched the network of Leonardo Labs, dedicated to the development of innovative technologies. These labs are currently engaged in 120 projects, with a staff of more than 130 researchers – a figure which is expected to reach 200 by 2023.

Leonardo's Innovation Figures

persone

9,600

people
involved in research and development

Laboratori

11

Leonardo labs
to develop innovative technologies

Joint labs

4

Joint labs
with industrial and institutional partners

davinci-1

davinci-1

One of the most powerful supercomputers in the AD&S industry worldwide

investimenti in Ricerca e Sviluppo

€1.8 BLN

invested in research and development in 2021

Dipendenti

62%

employees
with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) qualifications

9

9

Technological research areas

90

90

research fellows and universities involved

25

25

terabytes of usable data in data lakes

How space data can improve quality of life

Space is one of the primary sources of information at Leonardo. Satellites make it possible to acquire vital data to orient oneself and to analyse the chemical-physical composition of an area or object. They also make it possible to monitor motorways, water and energy networks, manufacturing plants, cultural heritage, buildings and assets of various kinds. The proper management and use of such data is also essential from an environmental perspective, in order to ensure greater protection for our planet. Moreover, by integrating data collected on the ground or by satellite and by means of numerical models, it is possible to create digital twins of objects, infrastructures, natural elements and even the entire planet Earth, with ever-changing scientific outlooks. By adding artificial intelligence algorithms, the capabilities of the Digital Twin extend to the ability to design preventive actions to correct or influence its evolution.

>50%

>50%

of the living space of the International Space Station was developed by Thales Alenia Space

>50

>50

atomic clocks onboard the Galileo constellation

>2 million

>2 million

radar images acquired by the COSMO-SkyMed constellation developed by ASI in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Defence

>170

>170

operational antennas in Telespazio’s Fucino Space Centre

The world's most powerful operational hyperspectral instrument

The world's most powerful operational hyperspectral instrument

on board the ASI PRISMA satellite

Data security: a key factor in digitisation

Security and data protection lie at the heart of digitisation. In 2021, global cyberattacks increased by 9.3% over 2020. Investing in cyber security means protecting both IT and physical infrastructures, safeguarding processes, and taking cyber security into account from the initial stages of designing a product or service. Leonardo’s Global Security Operation Centre (SOC) monitors 115,000 security events every second, with 500,000 billion transactions processed for cyber intelligence purposes. Data of this magnitude requires increasing investment in technology and expertise, as well as a new cultural approach including a greater focus on data management. The strategic nature of cyber security is demonstrated by the Chips Act, with which the European Union intends to address semiconductor deficiencies and strengthen the continent's technological leadership. The bill will mobilise more than EUR 43 billion in public and private investments and will establish measures to prepare for, anticipate and respond quickly to any future supply chain disruptions.

115,000

security events monitored per second by the Global Security Operation Centre (SOC)

100,000

users and 7,000 networks cyber-protected in 130 countries

1,800

security alarms handled by the Global SOC every day

Mr Ongaro concludes the interview by stating that, “Today, our core business is to develop skills, not only for our 50,000 employees, but also for the 130,000 people working in related industries, and indeed for our country and for Europe as a whole”.