On September 26-28 2023, the CounteR Project’s consortium partners gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria, to review project progress and conduct testing and validation of the software tool with the law-enforcement partners. The three-day busy agenda allowed partners to assess and analyse past and current tasks, as well as to strategize in view of the upcoming deliverables under the various work packages (WPs).
The first day started with a review of WP2 – “Social and Psychological Factors in the Radicalisation Process”. Partners pointed out the emerging trend of changing the research focus in the domain of preventing and countering radicalisation: as the UCSC researchers explained, from the search of the single radicalised and radicalised identity, the focus now tends to shift towards the malfunction and vulnerability of radicalisation hotbeds. During the meeting’s first day, partners also reviewed WPs 3, 4, 5, and 6. The conversation touched upon the improvements added to the data collectors, image and social network analysis, semantic reasoning and insight correlation for the engine’s integration, deep reinforcement learning, and network algorithms for automated removal of illicit content.
We discussed the progress made so far and defined our next steps in implementing this vital project aimed at eliminating radicalization and preventing global terrorist attacks. It’s an important mission, and we are proud to be a part of it, AST commented.
On Day Two, the partners went through the status of WPs 7, 8 and 9. Data privacy and ethics requirements were in the focus of the discussion, along with the latest updates on the end-user training sessions, the field demonstrations, and the system’s deployment. Based on lessons learned from the first pilot in Milan in June 2023, the project experts fine-tuned the evaluation approach for the second piloting session, which took place on the following day.
On Day Three, the technical partners provided hands-on exercises and guided practice for participants from the LEA sector to become familiar with the functionalities of the software tool. The latest test scenarios and datasets specifically designed to evaluate the tool’s performance were introduced and explained. The LEA partners validated the tool’s second version and all issues that were found were recorded in order to improve the overall quality and feel of the platform. The system went through a stress-test after the representatives of the law-enforcement entities successfully uploaded the synthetic datasets.
The tests were mainly focused on the NLP analysis module, developed by INRIA. Furthermore, during the testing phase, INS and IMG discussed the appropriate ways to issue reports for image analysis in order to have a better and richer user feedback. This segment significantly contributed to improving the models for the next system releases.
This productive meeting allowed us to test the system with our LEA partners and prepare it for its final release, thus contributing to a more effective prevention of radicalisation, IMG commented.
Last but not least, the participants in the consortium meeting in Sofia dedicated time to discussing the project’s communication and commercialization efforts. By month 36, the partners will develop a consolidated business exploitation plan for marketing the CounteR solution. The knowledge and know-how outputs, generated within CounteR, are considered key aspects of exploitation and sustainability, since CounteR is creating new knowledge in not just the technological field, but also in social, legal, and policy aspects.
EU’s key programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, brought us together for this insightful exchange. We are all excited to see the progress of the Counter platform and witness the significant improvements in its performance, EI commented.