Virtual Competition


NB! Participants are required to fill in a form outlining the proposed solution. We expect participants to provide, at minimum, a detailed description for their entry. It is also be possible to attach additional files: academic papers explaining the methodology and early prototypes are particularly welcome. The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2018.

Malicious actors exploit emerging technologies, and social media in particular, to carry out information activities targeting our populations. These can take the form of computational propaganda, impersonation, automated activity, and many other tactics. These activities represent a clear risk for the societal security of the Atlantic Alliance. Our goal is to understand these phenomena, in order to devise possible solutions. We cannot do this on our own. It is our intention to reach out to selected high-level partners in the academia and the industry, in order to build strategic partnerships with those organizations that are at the cutting-edge in their respective fields of expertise. It is for this reason that we have decided to organize a virtual competition. For us, this event represents an opportunity to meet young talents within the academia who want to share with us innovative concepts, prototypes, and solutions, aimed at countering malicious activities online. This year’s competition will focus on altered images and/or video content. Are you already working on a project related to this theme? Do you have an original idea you would like to develop? Test your concept by taking part in this competition!


The task

  • We are organizing a remote-based online competition on how to detect the use of online video and/or photographic content as part of information activities by malicious actors.
  • Topics we are particularly interested in include:
    • Automatic mapping of the diffusion of extremist/propaganda video/pictures
    • Prediction (modelling) of this diffusion
    • How to protect images from manipulation
    • How to make sense of huge volumes of data (mapping…)
    • How to automatically detect extremist tones in video content
    • Detecting when images/video are (consciously) being used in the wrong context
  • Each team will be required to submit a standardized form outlining their proposal.
  • Leading academic institutions will take part by selecting internal student teams. These teams will compete by providing prototypes/solutions aimed at solving the research question.
  • These will be evaluated by a team comprised of
    • COE personnel,
    • external experts,
    • representatives from our selected industry partners.


The timeline

  1. July: Preparatory phase. We will start accepting submissions, via our standardized form. The teams will be able to ask feedback on their prospective entries. This will be done internally by the NATO StratCom COE team. The feedback will just evaluate the form of the submission, i.e. we will not evaluate the submission yet.
  2. Competition: the teams will be required to send us their prototypes/solutions or refine they proposed ideas (which were accepted prior to October) between October 15, 2018 and November 1, 2018.
  3. The evaluation committee will evaluate the entries in early November. In December 10, 2018, the NATO StratCom COE will host a prize-award ceremony for the winning team.

Who are we looking for?

  • The teams will comprise up to 4 people. Team members will have to specify the institution(s) they belong to.
  • Academic partners: institutions that are regarded as leaders in the range of disciplines that are of interest for strategic communications. We are especially looking for multidisciplinary teams, where IT skills will be combined with social science in order to provide solutions that are both strategically relevant and grounded in the latest technological developments.
  • Industry partners: companies that are regarded as leaders in the following fields:
    • Advertising technology
    • Customer management
    • Data integration
    • Marketing data
    • Media/publishing
    • Risk data
    • Social media platforms
    • Telecommunication/device/service providers
    • Video editing
    • Video sharing


What do we offer?

  • The winning team will receive a prize of 5 000 euros
  • Three teams will win a trip to the final event in Riga, Latvia
  • The NATO StratCom COE will publish a report (in early 2019) outlining highlights from the competition. It will include a description of the best entries that we will receive
  • If any entry is supported by an academic paper explaining in-depth the methodology, it will be considered for publication on our academic journal (if it will pass the peer-review process)