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Published 25 October 2012.
Open Briefing 27 Old Gloucester Street Bloomsbury London WC1N 3AX United Kingdom Tel +44 (0)20 7193 9805 email@example.com www.openbriefing.org
Open Briefing is a not-for-profit social enterprise run nearly entirely by volunteers. Registered in England & Wales as a company limited by guarantee. Open Briefing Ltd, No. 07649656.
Evaluation of stage 1
Introduction Objective 1 Objective 2 Objective 3 Objective 4 Objective 5 Objective 6 Objective 7
1 3 4 5 7 8 9 10
Open Briefing is the world's first civil society intelligence agency; a collaborative platform for insight and analysis of key defence, security and foreign policy issues. Our international network provides open source intelligence assessments and independent security briefings, so that a better informed civil society can more effectively engage in peace and security debates and influence positive policy developments in these areas. The planned development of Open Briefing is divided into three stages. Stage 1 2 3 Timeframe 2011-12 (start-up + Y1) 2012-15 (Y2-4) 2015 onwards (Y5+) Focus Pilot project and proof of concept Impact and influence Expansion of staff, projects and services
Stage 1 was a pilot project consisting of a start-up phase from May 2011, when the organisation was registered, until 10 October 2011, when the organisation was publicly launched, followed by the first 12 months of operation, which served as a “proof of concept.” Stage 1 had seven objectives, progress against each of which is summarised below. Objective Attract at least 500 visitors a month from around the world to the organisation's website. Collect, assess and distribute at least 90 open source intelligence items. Sign up at least 300 subscribers to the organisation's e-bulletin and social networks. Publish at least 15 analyses, 3 dossiers and 2 briefings. Establish the think tank and associated online presence. Carry out a thorough evaluation of the organisation's effectiveness and value. Secure longer-term funding for stage 2 of the project. In progress 4% Achieved 100% Achieved 100% Surpassed 170% Surpassed 230% Surpassed 280% Status Surpassed % of target 400%
Evaluation of stage 1, 2011-12
Summary of key achievements during stage 1 1. From a single founder, Open Briefing now has an international team of 25 staff, analysts, associates and advisers. 2. Open Briefing published 34 original publications during stage 1: one book, two briefing papers, four dossiers, 11 articles and 16 analyses and intelligence briefs. 3. The Open Briefing website received an average 2,000 unique visitors a month by the end of stage 1. 4. There were 700 subscribers to Open Briefing’s e-bulletin, podcast and other outputs by the end of stage 1. 5. 72% of respondents to a user survey on the Open Briefing website rated the organisation “good” or “excellent” overall. 6. Open Briefing raised £41,330 and finished stage 1 with a £7,000 surplus, which was carried forward for use during stage 2. 7. In December 2011, Open Briefing’s first briefing paper, As the dust settles: Avoiding the mistakes of Oslo and Utøya in future media coverage of suspected terrorist attacks, was highlighted and quoted from in live reporting by the Guardian of grenade attacks in Liège, Belgium. 8. In June 2012, Open Briefing was nominated for an Awwward (the award for design and innovation on the internet) and received an honourable mention and a public vote of 8.67 out of 10. 9. In September 2012, Open Briefing reached an agreement to meet the intelligence requirements of a network of 100 civil society organisations – truly making the organisation the world’s first civil society intelligence agency. 10. In October 2012, Open Briefing’s first commissioned intelligence brief, an analysis of a YouTube video purportedly showing missing US freelance journalist Austin Tice, conclusively identified the prisoner in the video as Tice but also identified several irregularities that indicated it might not be a genuine jihadist video.
This report considers various key performance indicators and other available quantitative and qualitative evidence to measure the progress achieved against the seven stage 1 objectives of Open Briefing in an attempt to measure the impact and influence achieved during 2011-12. In short, Open Briefing achieved or surpassed six out of seven of its objectives – with the final objective, on reflection, being unrealistic. The pilot project is assessed as having been very successful and Open Briefing has embarked on stage 2 (2012-15).
Establish the think tank and associated online presence
Objective 1 was achieved. (100% of target.) Open Briefing was registered with Companies House as a company limited by guarantee on 27 May 2011 and publicly launched on 10 October of that year, when our website went live. By the end of stage 1, our online presence included: • Website • e-Bulletin • RSS feeds • Social networks • Facebook • Google+ • Twitter • YouTube • LinkedIn • Issuu and Scribd • Podcast • Mobile app and web apps Our principal public face during stage 1 was our website, openbriefing.org. Our website features a bold, modern design that breaks the traditional think tank mould. This was recognised in June 2011 when it was nominated for an Awwward, the award for design and innovation on the internet, and received an honourable mention and an excellent public vote of 8.67 out of 10. Other online outlets for our work include our e-bulletin (The Weekly Briefing), podcast and mobile and web apps. We have also embraced social media and have a presence on all the major social networks. Since February 2012, Open Briefing has been a featured non-profit on Twylah (a Twitter service), together with organisations of the calibre of Human Rights Watch, WWF, Save the Children and Amnesty International. At the end of stage 1, the website had a Google PageRank of 5/10, a Webutation score of 100/100 and a Web of Trust “trustworthiness” rating of 59/100.
If information is power, Open Briefing has the potential to equip campaigners with the information they need to expose wrongdoing and to identify alternative solutions.” Gemma Mortensen, Executive Director, Crisis Action
Evaluation of stage 1, 2011-12
Collect, assess and distribute at least 90 open source intelligence items
Objective 1 was achieved. (280% of target.) By the end of stage 1, Open Briefing had analysed, filed and distributed 250 intelligence items. Additional material was disseminated solely through our Twitter and YouTube networks or added to our digital library. The graph below gives an indication of the relative priority given to each desk during stage 1. The political violence and dissent desk and resource security and climate change desk filed the most items of the issue desks, and the Asia and Pacific desk and Middle East desk filed the most items of the regional desks. We are actively recruiting contributing analysts and associate researchers to expand the activity of the desks that have filed the least material to date. 0 Political violence and dissent Resource security and climate change Nuclear issues UK national security Asia and Pacific Middle East Africa Americas Europe Polar regions 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
The activity of our intelligence desks is driven by an adapted intelligence cycle: a process of direction, planning, collection, processing, analysis and dissemination. In this closed circuit, intelligence requirements are generated by a client and, at the end of the cycle, they provide feedback and issue new or revised requirements. Outside of this process, the majority of our work is in response to the events and issues that our own network’s collective experience and expertise suggest warrant attention from Open Briefing. In this process, the client might be a government, military or law enforcement decision maker. However, our client is civil society. So, in a major development for stage 2, in September 2012 we agreed a trial partnership with Crisis Action to provide some of our direction by generating monthly intelligence requirements from their international network of 100 civil society organisations.
Publish at least 15 analyses, 3 dossiers and 2 briefings items
Objective 3 was achieved. (170% of target.) For an organisation of its size and budget, Open Briefing achieved a very high level of activity and output during stage 1. This included one book, two briefing papers, four dossiers, 11 articles and 16 analyses and intelligence briefs, covering a diverse range of security and foreign policy issues. The issues covered by Open Briefing analyses and intelligence briefs during stage 1 were: • The deployment of Russian MiG-31BMs to an Arctic airbase off the northern coast of Russia. • An analysis of a video purportedly showing missing US freelance journalist Austin Tice. • The significance of a shift in the balance of oil supply and demand from the US and EU to Asia. • The potential for diplomatic competition between Australia and China in the South Pacific. • Chinese economic considerations within the South China Sea dispute. • The violent campaign for independence in Papua and West Papua. • The student protests in Quebec. • The insurgency in southern Thailand. • Regional tensions between Turkey and Iran. • Climate change and migration in Asia-Pacific. • Maritime conflict resolution in East and Southeast Asia. • The new US defence strategic guidance. • The November 2011 Arab League resolution against Syria. • The November 2011 IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear activities. • Muammar Gaddafi’s death. • The alleged Iranian assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The articles published were: • Lawrence Gitonga Mwongera, “Making sense of political-related violence in Kenya,” openDemocracy, 14 September 2012. • Martin Quadroy, “The burden of peace in the Taiwan Strait,” The Quadroy Files, 31 August 2012. • Lawrence Gitonga Mwongera, “Taking stock in Somalia,” openDemocracy, 30 August 2012. • Kevjn Lim, “Iran’s secret weapon,” National Interest, 9 August 2012. • Maitreya Buddha Samantaray, “What now for the Philippines Communist insurgency,” openDemocracy, 31 July 2012. • Kevjn Lim, “Tehran’s man in Baghdad,” The National Interest, 8 June 2012. • Kevjn Lim, “Israel’s reluctant friend,” The Diplomat, 12 May 2012. • Kevjn Lim, “Let Iran save face,” The Diplomat, 21 April 2012.
Evaluation of stage 1, 2011-12
• Kevjn Lim, “Kadima: Not yet another centrist casualty,” openDemocracy, 11 April 2012. • Kevjn Lim, “Iranian parliamentary elections indicator of regime’s and Supreme Leader’s mounting anxieties,” Middle East Online, 15 March 2012. • Chris Abbott, “Viewed through an ism,” New Internationalist, 1 July 2011. The issues covered by Open Briefing dossiers were: • The prospects for peace in Thailand’s deep south. • Iran, Israel and the consequences of military strikes. • The April/May 2012 standoff between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal. • The October 2011 announcement by ETA of a definitive cessation of armed activity. The briefing papers were: • Chris Abbott and Joel Vargas, Rehabilitating the war on drugs: Central America and the legalisation debate (London: Open Briefing, 2012). • Chris Abbott, As the dust settles: Avoiding the mistakes of Oslo and Utøya in future media coverage of suspected terrorist attacks (London: Open Briefing, 2011). In addition, the paperback edition of our Executive Director’s book 21 speeches that shaped our world: The people and ideas that changed the way we think was published by Rider Books in June 2012 (the hardback and Kindle editions were published in August 2010). Our first briefing paper, As the dust settles, was published on 5 August 2011. This media briefing explored the factors that contributed to failures in the reporting immediately after the 2011 Norway attacks that led to Islamic extremists being wrongly blamed and proposed ways of avoiding these failures in future. The briefing was well received and was highlighted and quoted from in live reporting by the Guardian of the December 2011 grenade attacks in Liège, Belgium. Our second briefing paper, Rehabilitating the war on drugs, was published in English and Spanish on 4 April 2012, ten days before the Sixth Summit of the Americas, where, for the first time, alternatives to prohibition were discussed by American leaders, led by Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina. This white paper outlined a sustainable security alternative strategy to the failed war on drugs. The paper was read by President Molina, and co-author Joel Vargas followed up with several meetings and conversations with senior Guatemalan policymakers, including the President of Congress. Prospect also commissioned a letter on the issue from co-author Chris Abbott, published in the June 2012 edition of the magazine. Open Briefing published its first intelligence brief at the very end of stage 1. This was an analysis of a YouTube video purportedly showing missing US freelance journalist Austin Tice, as part of an intelligence requirement from a US civil society organisation on the likely location and condition of Tice. Following imagery and technical analyses, we conclusively identified the prisoner in the video as Tice but also identified several irregularities that indicated it might not be a genuine jihadist video.
Sign up at least 300 subscribers to the organisation's weekly e-bulletin and social networks
Objective 4 was achieved. (230% of target.) Open Briefing completed stage 1 with 684 known subscriptions to our social networks and ebulletin and other outputs, together with a further 78 known installs of our mobile and web apps. Twitter had the most subscribers (237), followed by our e-bulletin (172). 700
500 Twitter 400 e-Bulletin Facebook 300 LinkedIn YouTube 200 Other
0 Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
In order to measure our online influence and relative importance, Open Briefing uses a basket of three different social media influence metrics (Klout, Kred and PeerIndex) and Google PageRank. An average of these four metrics gave us an influence score of 43.5/100 at the end of stage 1.
The concept of this think tank – to collect, collate and interpret information on peace and security issues for NGOs and interested members of civil society – is most timely. Open Briefing potentially will be a great force for good in helping to make transparent areas of activity that are often shrouded in secrecy and where misinformation is common place. In the long term it could have an important impact on policy.” Bevis Gillett, Trustee, Marmot Charitable Trust
Evaluation of stage 1, 2011-12
Attract at least 500 visitors a month from around the world to the organisation's website
Objective 5 was achieved. (400% of target.) This target was achieved in 11 out of 12 months during stage 1. The average across stage 1 was 1,460 unique visitors a month (generating on average 2,050 visits and 4,240 page views a month). On average, visitors viewed two pages per visit and stay on the site for two and a half minutes each time. However, these averages are not completely representative as they were brought down by – to be expected – relatively low visitors numbers in the four months immediately after launch (as shown in the graph below). A more representative figure is provided by the average across quarter four (JulySeptember 2012), which was 2,000 unique visitors a month. Visits have come from all over the world, though a majority came from North America and Northern Europe (predominantly the United States and United Kingdom). 3500 3000 2500 2000 Visitors 1500 1000 500 0 Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Visits
With its rational, thorough and transparent approach, Open Briefing has the potential to become an important corrective to often speculative media coverage.” Magnus Nome, Editor-in-Chief, openDemocracy
Carry out a thorough evaluation of the organisation's effectiveness and value
Objective 6 was achieved. (100% of target.) Progress in achieving our stage 1 aim and objectives was constantly monitored against qualitative and quantitative data from various independent sources. This was summarised in four quarterly reports and this final evaluation report. Given that we achieved or surpassed six out of seven objectives (with the final objective, on reflection, being unrealistic) we assess the pilot project as having been successfully completed. The busy advisers, analysts and researchers who give their time freely to Open Briefing clearly feel that there is an unmet need for such an organisation. The same can also be said of the funders and donors who supported the establishment and development of Open Briefing. The civil society demand is demonstrated by our strategic partnership with an international network of 100 civil society organisations. The public demand is evidenced by the 2,000 unique visitors a month to our website and the 700 subscribers we gained in our first year of operation. Furthermore, in June 2011 Open Briefing was nominated for an Awwward and received a public vote of 8.67 out of 10. Media coverage of Open Briefing’s work included: • Antiwar Radio, 21 May 2012 • Foreknowledge, April 2012 • Hawaii News Daily, 9 April 2012 • Guatemala Times, 5 April 2012 • Guardian, 13 December 2011 • The Friend, 17 November 2011 • The Cornishman, 13 October 2011 and 10 November 2011 • Ekklesia, 11 October 2011 To gain further insights, we ran a website user survey for six weeks over August to October 2012, which included the question “Do you think there is a need for an organisation like Open Briefing?” The results were very positive: a majority of respondents answered “yes” (52% agreed, 31% said they did not know and only 17% responded negatively). In the same survey, the overwhelming majority (72%) of respondents rated Open Briefing “good” or “excellent” overall.
Evaluation of stage 1, 2011-12
Secure longer-term funding for stage 2 of the project
Work on achieving objective 7 is in progress. (4% of target.) The priority for much of 2011-12 was to secure the full funding needed for stage 1 of the project, which was achieved in April 2012. With hindsight, it was unrealistic to have attempted to secure longer-term funding for stage 2 while at the same time fundraising for stage 1. The required set up and operating costs for stage 1 were budgeted at £39,385. Open Briefing raised £41,330 (105% of target) from grants and individual donations from members of the public (we achieved 46% of our £500 individual donation target for the year). Separately, the Executive Director was awarded an EU start-up grant of £1,060 for IT equipment and software (funded by the European Regional Development Fund). Income source Marmot Charitable Trust Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation Network for Social Change (fast track) Network for Social Change (peace pool) Donations Total Amount £9,600 £14,000 £5,500 £12,000 £230 £41,330
Fundraising efforts during the final months of stage 1 focussed on developing and finalising our plans for stage 2 of the project. We did, however, submit funding applications totalling £23,230 to the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust and the Network for Social Change. Furthermore, we finished stage 1 with a £7,000 surplus, which was carried forward for use in stage 2.
There is no shortage of interesting comment being published. The problem is finding the useful material in the daily deluge. What is needed are trusted mediators, to select, contextualise, and make it easily accessible in one place. Open Briefing has the potential to add very considerable value for hard-pressed progressive organisations and individuals at very modest cost.” John Sloboda, Oxford Research Group and Iraq Body Count
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