Covid inquiry signs two-year deal for media-monitoring software

Soon-to-launch investigation exercise retains specialist arm of market-research giant Kantar to analyse traditional outlets and social media platforms

Credit: David Hawgood/CC BY-SA 2.0

The UK’s Covid-19 Public Inquiry has signed a two-year deal for a software platform that can monitor media outlets and social networks.

Newly published procurement documents reveal that, acting on behalf of the soon-to-launch inquiry, the Crown Commercial Service signed a contract with Kantar on 21 February. The engagement, which will be worth at least £76,800 to the global market-research firm, will run for a minimum period of two years, plus two optional extensions of one year each.

“The Covid-19 Public Inquiry requires ongoing media monitoring to support its establishment and early work,” the contract said. “This will include monitoring of press, online, broadcast and social media.”

According to its listing on the government’s Digital Marketplace platform, Kantar’s media-monitoring service can assist organisations in measuring the impact of both comms campaigns and independent media coverage. Its online platform – which users can access via a standard web browser – also offers “evaluation and analysis of press coverage, including sentiment”.

The company’s offering, which is available to buy via the G-Cloud 12 framework, encompasses both “automated and human-driven monitoring and analysis”.

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The text of the contract indicates that the inquiry will use the software system to “capture mentions of [its] chosen keywords in print media… online sources… broadcast sources, and on social media”. 

During the first week of the engagement, Kantar was also expected to provide “relevant inquiry staff… with sufficient training to use any required systems”.

The contact set out the company’s “on-boarding process, which can either be completed in person or via video calls”. 

“Working closely with you, we will create multiple briefs and search categories to best support your tracking of media – national, regional, [and] international; print, online, [and] broadcast,” the contract said. “Additionally, we will set up bespoke source lists that give you both a micro and macro level view of coverage. During this process, for analysis we will set up the necessary metrics which you have subscribed to. Once the service is set up, we will conduct a thorough training programme which can be delivered in person, videoconference [or] online.”

At the conclusion of the contract, the inquiry will be able to download all monitoring and coverage data in PDF or spreadsheet form.

The long-awaited public inquiry last week set out its draft terms of reference, which include the construction of a “factual narrative account” of the impact of and response to the pandemic across all four countries of the UK, followed by the identification of lessons learned. 

Among the key areas for assessment for the “how decisions were made, communicated and implemented; intergovernmental decision-making; [and] the availability and use of data and evidence”.

The review is due to get underway in the coming weeks and will chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett.


Sam Trendall

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