HS2 signs £280k software deals for social media and political monitoring

Project to deliver new rail infrastructure invests in tools to monitor and manage media coverage

Credit: High Speed Two

The HS2 project has invested almost £280,000 in software tools to monitor activity on social networks and traditional media outlets.

Newly published commercial documents reveal that High Speed Two Limited – the government-funded company leading the delivery of the new rail infrastructure – entered into two year-long contracts with tech firms earlier this week. 

The larger of the two, worth £233,550 over the next 12 months, was awarded to the Access Intelligence group, which will provide “media and political monitoring software and associated services”.

The firm’s core brand in this area is Vuelio which, in its listing on the government’s Digital Marketplace platform, describes itself as “a communications software and intelligence platform”.

“We help you to manage media monitoring, coverage analysis, journalist contacts, press office, press enquiries, lines-to-take, news distribution, publishing, stakeholder engagement, internal comms, political monitoring and contacts – all in one place”, the listing adds.

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The public cloud-hosted tool, which can be accessed through a standard web browser, costs £1,000 per licence.

The smaller of the two online monitoring deals, valued at £45,000, is intended to cover HS2’s need for “social media monitoring software and associated services”.

This engagement will be fulfilled by Brandwatch which, on the Digital Marketplace, pitches itself as “a real-time social media monitoring, social media listening, social analytics and consumer intelligence platform”.

“Crawling millions of online sources, including all major social networks, [such as] Twitter… news and review sites, blogs and forums, [we] provide owned and earned social media tracking and market research, including image recognition,” it added.

For a cost of £2,160 per licence, public-sector customers are provided with “unlimited mentions in relation to keyword tracking for social listening” and a product that uses a so-called data firehose API to provide information from “full Twitter data… [with] coverage back to 2007”.

Three prime ministers have left office since HS2 Ltd was incorporated in 2009 and, after various protests, controversies and delays, the formal start of construction was signalled by incumbent PM Boris Johnson in September 2020.

The £96bn project is scheduled to deliver a high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham, and onto Crewe, by no later than 2033 – up to seven years beyond the initially scheduled opening date of 2026. Work to extend the new network from Crewe to Manchester has a deadline of 2045.


Sam Trendall

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