I received a cryptic note from a colleague earlier tonight:
“This one has time AND location data.”
The email contained a link to the Global Terrorism Database, which is maintained at the University of Maryland at College Park, which is an easy walk from a green line stop on the D.C. Metro. I poked around the site a bit and discovered that everything from 1970 through 2011 is available for download if you just fill out a form.
The total content is large so I pulled out the 5,066 events from 2011. There are an amazing 127 attributes for each event, but it’s a sparse row setup, very easy to process. I unrolled just a few key items – city, country, and region. This resulted in over 15,000 lines indexed with their twelve digit event IDs. The first rough visualization I did was immediately exciting in terms of what was visible.
Phi Beta Iota: There are two huge issues here that demand articulation. The first is one’s definition of terrorism. That skews everything, and as we now know, financial terrorism by Wall Street is several orders of magnitude more harmful to humanity than freedom fighters against dictators supported without question by the conventional powers. The second issue, related to the first, is that the database only has what we have been looking for — it excludes everything else, including the true cost information of the elective wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the water, food, health, and living wage issues everywhere else. It should not be a surprise to find that when the USA invades a country, what the USA defines as “terror” spikes upwards. This is a self-fulfilling formula.