Government anti-Isis comms unit signs data-analytics deal for ‘audience insights’

Foreign Office-based unit taps Emirati firm to help increase ‘understanding of behavioural and attitudinal characteristics’

Government’s dedicated anti-Isis communications unit has signed a £150,000 data-analytics deal to provide “audience insight”.

The Counter-Daesh Communications Cell (CDDC) – Daesh being another name for the organisation known as Isis or Islamic State – issues public communications in support of the Global Coalition, which brings together scores of national governments to collaborate on efforts to diminish the terror group. Alongside military deployments and work to cut off funding, a key strand of the coalition’s work is an anti-propaganda operation delivering “messaging and counter-messaging effort to oppose Daesh’s narrative and to undermine the appeal of its ideology”.

Last week, the CDDC – which is based in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – entered into the three-month deal for “data-analysis services… [that] will enhance the authority’s understanding of behavioural and attitudinal characteristics of specified priority audiences and develop recommendations based on audience insight to inform communication campaigns”.

Little further information is available about the services to be provided under the contract, but PublicTechnology understands the “audience analysis” relates to communications activity outside the UK, and is likely to cover material issued in Arabic and English.

The contract was awarded with International Advisory Services – a firm that is based in Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. Little information is available online about the firm, beyond a name and address, and an indication the company was founded in 2017.

A search of procurement archives suggests that this is the firm’s first public-sector contract win and the deal was awarded through the framework of suppliers that supports the work of the cross-government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund; the FCDO indicated that it was selected to fulfil the engagement following a process that complied with procurement regulations but declined to comment further.

The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund was created in 2015 and runs programmes on behalf of various government departments, including the FCDO, Home Office, and the Ministry of Defence. Operating with an annual budget of about £1bn – and a framework of suppliers including businesses, charities and think tanks – the fund describes its mission as leading an “integrated UK government response to tackling conflict and instability” around the world. As well as supporting anti-Isis initiatives, the CSSF has overseen the delivery of initiatives in countries including Ukraine and Somalia. It was announced this week the fund is being renamed and replaced with a new Integrated Security Fund.

Sam Trendall

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