Arms fair event with Helen Close, Rachel Small and Chris Rossdale

Arms Fairs Uncovered: Launch Event and Q&A for New Data Repository

Join Omega Research Foundation and CAAT at the launch of a new data repository with information on hundreds of arms fairs around the world and tens of thousands of attendees. Omega's Helen Close chairs the panel with Chris Rossdale from Bristol University & Rachel Small from World Beyond War. CAAT's Ian McKinnon and Omega's Scott Mason demonstrate the power of the data and how it is already being used.

 

Arms Fairs Uncovered Q&A

 

Q: Where are the resources:

A: 

The raw data (for programmers or data analysts) is at:

https://github.com/caatdata/arms-and-security-fair-exhibitors

 

CAAT’s Arms Fair fact files are at:

http://caat.org.uk/data/arms-fairs/

 

Omega’s Arms Fair dashboard is at:

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/da375ddd2fcc48a0b31eae58e2cf218e/

 

Q: How was the data collected?

A: For many years now, CAAT & Omega have compiled lists of arms fairs that we know to have taken place. For each fair, we manually research whether an exhibitor list can be found, and where these exist we have used computational tools to convert them into a consistent format.

 

Q: Do you have an idea of the profitability of the arms fair by the organisers, although we know that they are often financed by the hosting government?

A: We do not have any information about that, although we did see a small number of fairs cease trading during the pandemic period.

 

Q: Is there a function to search what countries are attending what arms fairs? The organizers of the CANSEC arms fair in Canada boasted that 55 international delegations would be in attendance, but no list was made public and initial open source research could only identify three countries that were there (UK, Qatar, Israel).

A: Where delegation lists are available, we aim to include them in our data repository. On the CAAT page for any given arms fair (eg. DSEI 2019) you can scroll down to the “Facts & Figures” section to see whether we have records of invited delegations. By clicking the “DELEGATIONS” link in that section you can see a list of delegations accompanied by a map, as shown below.

 

In most cases (CANSEC 2022 included) we do not have any special knowledge beyond what is available in the public sphere, so our delegation lists will usually match the official list. Since CANSEC only published a number, and not the specific countries, we do not include a delegation list for CANSEC 2022. It is also worth noting that fairs have an incentive to exaggerate the presence of official delegations. Where we know that specific countries have been invited, but have not attended, this is tagged in the data, although this is a very small number of cases. The same is true for countries whose invitation has been retracted  (eg. Thailand at Farnborough 2014).

 

Q: What was that website to look at old posts?

A: The Internet archive (also known as the Way Back Machine) https://archive.org/web/.

 

Q: Are Cyber Fairs (Cyber-attack tech, spyware, facial recognition, AI) also included in the database?

A: Yes. However, since the main focus of our research has been on fairs where military hardware is exhibited there is a greater likelihood of us missing specific events in this sector. Suggestions of events that are missing from our records are welcome to be submitted to data@caat.org.uk & info@omegaresearchfoundation.org.

Using Omega’s arms fair website it is possible to search for fairs by ‘type’ (Aviation/Aerospace, Cyber-security/Surveillance, Military, Naval, Police/law enforcement). 

 

Q: In the USA, the major arms companies have manufacturing, design, offices, etc in many states. Can the specific site(s) that is exhibiting or being demonstrated be found, or just the headquarters of the company?

A: We include any addresses exactly as they appear in the arms fair catalogue or online exhibitor list. Often these do include a specific subsidiary or department name, though not always. However, we should note that most published exhibitor information does not include an address; only the company name.

 

Q: Seems an amazing resource.  How  has it been funded?

A: The vast majority of the research work has been covered by CAAT and Omega core funding. We also received a grant from the Network for Social Change specifically for the work required to develop our collaborative tools and protocols, so that is what has enabled the two organisations to work on this together.

 

Q: Are you going to include the brochures that are offered by the companies at the arms fairs in the future in this initiative? and/or what is a company branding and/or advertising at a particular fair?

A: We do not aim to include any material that is ostensibly covered by creative intellectual property rights. This would include published documents, corporate logos, illustrative images and descriptive prose. Our goal is to include purely factual information about exhibitor attendance which we consider to be in the public domain.

 

Q: Is there a place to share with you in a comfortable way info from fairs that we attend?

A: We would welcome any information to be submitted to data@caat.org.uk & info@omegaresearchfoundation.org. If you would like to send a secure message, please email us at the addresses listed above and we will send you further contact details.

 

Q: Will you be providing a summary of what each exhibitor is showcasing at a fair? For example, if someone showed mines at an Arms Fair it would be good to know what type for some demining NGOs 

A: Omega analyses the exhibitors lists for any companies that are known to advertise items that are prohibited in certain jurisdictions or of particular human rights concern (including torture equipment, anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions, and surveillance software). We generally flag these with relevant NGOs. If there is any weapons or equipment that you are particularly interested in please email info@omegaresearchfoundation.org.

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