A job in defence – hot or not?
No one likes war. Nevertheless, many people still find it very rewarding to work in the defence industry. It can divide opinions, and people each have their own view on the matter. For Henrik Møller Hedemark, working with defence software gives him the opportunity to help soldiers on the battlefield. He is Vice President for Product Development and Quality in Systematic’s Defence division, and he follows the products from concept to release. We talked to him to find out how he reflects on his work.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s very motivating to see that the products we work with make a positive difference for soldiers and defence in general. We maintain very close relations with our customers, for example Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, and they’re very engaged in the development process: They share their improvement suggestions, experiences, and ideas with us. However, they also make a point of telling us how important our products are for their daily working lives and the missions they conduct. We generally receive very positive feedback from the top down – from the general staff to the individual infantry soldier.
This feedback makes it very clear to me how much they depend on our software. In the military, there is a lot at stake. In critical situations, it’s often a question of life and death. This makes it extremely relevant. Specifically, SitaWare can offer the final lifeline; at moments where you’re in a tight spot or need medical assistance. In such situations, life and death is measured in minutes. It’s hard to think of anything more meaningful.
How do you feel about the products you help develop being used in war?
War is terrible, but unfortunately, it’s also an unavoidable fact of life. I can’t stop conflicts between nations around the world or change the fact that we need to protect our national borders and democracy. There is no denying that this need exists. However, thanks to our SitaWare software, I can help soldiers make the best possible decisions in challenging situations, minimising damage, and reducing the risk of civilian casualties, since they know exactly where everything is located.
Historically, there have been alarmingly high numbers of fatalities in wars because of friendly fire. Basically, soldiers didn’t know the exact positions of their allies, and in the heat of a battle, it can be hard to distinguish friend from foe.
What SitaWare gives you is like a ‘Risk’ map in real time that shows the position of your allies, the terrain, and the infrastructure. In addition, you can confidently and efficiently plan, coordinate, and share other information between units, armed forces, and nations.
In critical situations, time is of the essence, and with the right information to hand, soldiers can quickly make the best possible decisions on an informed basis. In this way, you avoid errors, which ultimately saves lives.
SitaWare is also used in connection with humanitarian aid and natural disasters, where many of the same conditions apply.
So you don’t have any reservations about working with defence software?
No. Our products ensure that, as a soldier, you can make better decisions, and I’m 100% behind that. I also believe that Systematic stands out thanks to our values: We want to make a real difference. This is reflected in our core principles that we deliver what we promise, and that we don’t rest until the products function perfectly for the soldiers.
That said, it’s a complex industry, and I think that all my colleagues have probably reflected upon this themselves. What I usually find, however, is that certain prejudices and reservations disappear when people learn more about how the SitaWare products can actually help.
Do you have any colleagues who are unwilling to work with defence software?
Systematic delivers software for several other business areas including the health sector, libraries, the police, and wind power. It is a large software company, and employees regularly move between departments as part of their career development, but there are some who don’t want to work in Defence. They look at things differently, and I respect that completely. Their view is often that the basic premise for the defence industry is wrong. Therefore, they prefer to work elsewhere, whereas I want to make a fundamentally difficult situation better with the products we deliver. Those who want to work with defence products often develop a passion for what they’re doing – people take pride in our products and want them to be of the highest possible quality.
How do your friends and family react when you tell them what you do?
The question I’m usually asked is whether my work is so secret that I can’t talk about it. But it’s not that secret at all.
I’ve never encountered negative reactions when I’ve told people that I work with defence software, but some people find it hard to understand what ‘defence software’ means exactly. I usually say that where you used to send soldiers out into the field with maps and orders, everything can now happen digitally and with efficient two-way communication.
Facts about the SitaWare suite
Systematic’s C4ISR* solution, SitaWare is created with the aim of increasing the security of deployed soldiers, strengthening alliances, and making it easier to make well-informed decisions in critical situations.
It is a command-and-control system that provides a detailed overview of forces, infrastructure, terrain and buildings in a given area, enabling information sharing, planning, coordination and communication effectively.
SitaWare can be used on land, at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace, among all domains and among nations. The system integrates military communications networks, surveillance systems and target designation with analysis and decision support functions and uses artificial intelligence for data processing. It is built with an open architecture that makes it easy to integrate with other solutions, as well as users can create their own plug-ins and add-ons that suit their mission and task requirements.
SitaWare is used by approximately 50 countries worldwide – including most major NATO countries and NATO partner countries, e.g., Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, and the United States.
C4ISR: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
The SitaWare Suite includes, among other things:
SitaWare Headquarters – used by commanders in fixed or mobile headquarters and in joint military operations centers.
SitaWare Insight – Intelligence solution for analysis and decision support used as part of SitaWare Headquarters.
SitaWare Frontline – used on a tablet mounted in vehicles.
SitaWare Edge – used on a mobile phone by dismounted soldiers
SitaWare Aspire – digital training, simulation and education platform that provides realistic, hands-on experience using the SitaWare suite.
SitaWare Battlefield Health – an integrated and specialised military health system that manages health data and improves patient care for soldiers - from enlistment to deployment and as returning veterans.
In addition, Systematic has developed the IRIS suite, which is a secure communication system for defence use.