IT Awards 2023

Pride Solutions Derby Ltd (Pride Solutions) is primarily an IT & Technology partner to the railway. Starting life as a small IT business supporting small to medium sized enterprises and finding bespoke technological solutions to meet their unique problems, Pride Solutions was built on the back of a desperate need for honest, trusted, value for money support that was viable for small businesses – to allow them to capitalise on the wealth of benefits that come from well deployed and supported technology. The business grew on the back of this and migrated into the railway industry in late 2021 where it now provides IT, Engineering, and Cybersecurity support to various organisations, including passenger train operators, vehicle owning companies, and technical consultancies. Current workstreams for the business include supporting a large train operator to manage their ageing digital equipment, such as CCTV and data recorders, on 40-yearold passenger vehicles as well as providing consultancy support to that same operator around the cybersecurity of their new, state of the art fleets of trains. An example of this was the creation of a tool that allows the simple download of CCTV footage from a 20-year-old CCTV system simply by plugging the removable drive into a USB port. This involved reverse engineering how the removable drives worked and developing bespoke tooling and coding that allowed secure access to the drive without risking damage. Creating this tool prevented the operator from needing to replace the whole CCTV system onboard vehicles that have a very short life expectancy remaining. “We specialise in bringing together our wealth of railway engineering, IT system, and cybersecurity knowledge to provide support packages and assistance that is tailored specifically to meet the very niche needs of the customer in a highly regulated industry,” explains Lee Clough, the firm’s Director and he goes on to tells us more about the firm’s six core principles of Accountability, Safety, Pride, Innovation, Reliability, and Excellence, that underpin the organisation and everything it stands for. “Embedding each of those values in all elements of work ensures that we are always providing solutions that are safe, transparent, compliant to rules and legislation (not something particularly easy in a heavily regulated environment like the railway) and always adding value.” Pride Solutions’ unique selling point is quite obvious – owing to its niche areas of specialism, namely the combination of railway engineering experience and technology skills, and this places Pride Solutions in an unusual position to provide extremely tailored support to very particular problems within the industry. What’s more, it also allows the company to turn solutions around extremely quickly, minimising disruption to the customer’s operation in a way larger organisations may struggle with. The railway industry itself is also going through a paradigm shift in how connected its vehicles are. Lee tells us how, only 10 years ago, the overwhelming majority of Britain’s trains had nothing but passenger Wi-Fi to worry about from a security perspective. However now they have complex, digitally connected command and control systems that have changed the threat landscape completely. “As the public would rightly expect, we ensure we only utilise qualified and competent engineers to carry out work and we have become excellent at turning our existing knowledge and compliance to these challenges into a business selling point,” says Lee. “It allows Pride Solutions Derby to sit anywhere in the process timeline from initial consultancy support to the provision of full turn-key projects and still add immense value to a project.” Working in the railway is an extremely challenging undertaking in itself and Pride Solutions is often bound by technical competency requirements, extensive legislation, industry group standards and countless stakeholders for every new project. Lee tells us that working with vehicles at a fleet level, it is also absolutely critical to ensure that solutions are as simple and repeatable as possible. “The logic and engineering behind some of our solutions can be extensive at times, but we work hard to ensure that, by the time the end customer comes to interact with the solution, we have made it as straight forward as possible,” he elaborates. The firm also utilises Cloud solutions and automation technologies to drive data led improvements to its systems. For example, writing scripts that are uses in its online systems to automate security testing of vehicles and fleets. This cuts down the amount of time required for data gathering stages and allows the company to get to the end solutions faster. To support this, Pride Solutions is also exploring how Artificial Intelligence can be used to further simplify its processes and add more value to the services it can offer its customers. As a very small organisation it is of utmost importance to Lee and the team that the right people to work with are selected when recruiting. To this end, Lee prioritises their motivation and passion for working as a team to create safe, innovative solutions to problems above all else. “The team, as a collective, has the skills and experience to support each other. So if one person doesn’t know something, there will be someone else who has either dealt with it in their career already, or knows what documentation and standards to research,” he enthuses. “We rely heavily on each other and our support network of contractors and consultants, and teamwork is key. You can learn and teach technical information, thinking your way out of a problem innovatively is down to how you naturally approach problems and is a much harder skill to teach.” This strong commitment to teamwork and working collaboratively is what helped Pride Solutions to triumph recently in the IT Awards 2023. Understandably delighted by this accolade, which is testament to the dedication and hard work put in by the team, Lee is now looking forward to a strong and prosperous future with plans to expand the firm’s cybersecurity capabilities beyond their current scope to include penetration testing, incident response, digital forensic evidence gathering and remote monitoring and detection capabilities. In fact, there is a roadmap laid out that sees the organisation qualifying in industry qualifications such as Certified Network Defender, Certified Ethical Hacker, Computer Hacking Forensic Investigation, and Incident Handlers to support customers at all stages of the cybersecurity lifecycle. “Pride Solutions Derby is an exceptionally unique business designed to support extremely unique systems in a very unknown industry, where it is almost impossible to get support from the original manufacturers,” Lee states. “We are uniquely placed to not only understand the IT side of systems, but exactly how they interface with complex passenger trains, the safety critical nature of some of these systems and the best way to maintain them.” Contact Details Contact: Lee Clough Company: Pride Solutions Derby Ltd Web Address: