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*Intelligence Studies | Program Guide: Conflict Datasets

A guide to online intelligence studies and global security research for APUS faculty and students.

START - National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism - University of Maryland

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism—better known as STARTis a university-based research and education center comprised of an international network of scholars committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.

A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence headquartered at the University of Maryland, START supports the research efforts of leading social scientists at more than 50 academic and research institutions, each of whom is conducting original investigations into fundamental questions about terrorism, including:

  • What is the nature of terrorism in the world today? How has terrorist activity evolved over time? How does terrorism vary across geographies? And what do these trends indicate about likely future terrorism?
  • Under what conditions does an individual or a group turn to terrorism to pursue its goals? What is the nature of the radicalization process?
  • How does terrorism end? What are the processes of deradicalization and disengagement from terrorism for groups and individuals?
  • What actions can governments take to counter the threat of terrorism?
  • What impact does terrorism and the threat of terrorism have on communities, and how can societies enhance their resilience to minimize the potential impacts of future attacks?

START experts apply a range of research methods to the exploration of these questions in order to deliver findings based on the best available open-source evidence and data. At the heart of START's work are the principles that the research it is conducting must be both scientifically rigorous and directly relevant to homeland security professionals.

START is committed to the widespread dissemination of its research findings not only to homeland security professionals through tailored research, education and training efforts, but also to students of all levels and to the general public. START has developed educational materials and programs specifically designed for instructors and students at the secondary, university, and graduate levels. Educational resources available through START include relevant teaching tools and a range of unique data sources that can be integrated into an array of courses to deepen students' understanding of the dynamics of terrorism.

START Homepage

START Logo

To propel the scientific study of terrorism, counterterrorism and community resilience forward, START Data and Tools seeks to collect and disseminate valuable datasets so that academics, analysts, and practitioners can take these objective baselines as their starting point for future analysis and decision-making.  START also produces interactive knowledge tools to help visualize data, integrate data and organize data for greater utility.  Data files for publicly available databases can be downloaded directly from our website or from START’s Dataverse page, and knowledge tools can be accessed through the START website as well.

START logo

START surveyed the literature related to influencing violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and then encapsulated that information in a functional website to create the Influencing Violent Extremist Organizations (IVEO) Knowledge Matrix. The Knowledge Matrix illuminates 183 different hypotheses on how VEOs may be negatively influenced. Each hypothesis is examined in a literature review including qualitative and/or quantitative research. For functionality, all of the hypotheses and related literature reviews can be sorted by several different schemas. The term influence operation is defined broadly for the scope of this project. Any action taken by a government, including the military, to affect the behavior, motivation, and/or capabilities of a violent extremist organization (VEO) is considered an influence operation. Cooptation, dissuasion, deterrence, and defeat all fall within the spectrum of influence operations. Such influence operations range from soft types of influence (i.e., incorporating VEO leaders into government) to coercive types of influence (i.e., assassinations and military strikes targeting the VEO members). Examples of influence operations include providing educational aid to a village to dissuade adolescents from joining a local VEO and targeting the leaders of a terrorist group to decrease group capabilities. Unlike doctrinal influence operations, the influence operations portrayed in the literature surveyed by the Knowledge Matrix are not related to psychological operations.

The Influencing Violent Extremist Organizations: Planning Influence Activities While Accounting for Unintended Side Effects (I-VEO) project was undertaken as part of a 2011 Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) initiative, coordinated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As one of its tasks under the project, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) endeavored to identify, collect, and organize the comprehensive theoretical knowledge applicable to influencing VEOs, while also assessing the degree of empirical support for these theoretical assertions.

The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2015 (with additional annual updates planned for the future). Unlike many other event databases, the GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as transnational and international terrorist incidents that have occurred during this time period and now includes more than 150,000 cases. For each GTD incident, information is available on the date and location of the incident, the weapons used and nature of the target, the number of casualties, and--when identifiable--the group or individual responsible.

GTD

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The Big, Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) online platform features updated, vetted and sourced narratives, and relationship information and social network data on 50 of the most notorious terrorist organizations in the world since 1998, with additional network information on more than 100 organizations. Funded through the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs, the underlying BAAD database was created and is maintained by the Project on Violent Conflict at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

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The Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) dataset contains deidentified individual-level information on the backgrounds, attributes, and radicalization processes of nearly 1,500 violent and non-violent extremists who adhere to far right, far left, Islamist, or single issue ideologies in the United States covering 1948-2013. Coded using entirely public sources of information, the PIRUS dataset is among the first efforts to understand domestic radicalization from an empirical and scientifically rigorous perspective. Users can now explore the rich PIRUS data using the Keshif data visualization tool, a user-friendly platform that allows for intuitive and insightful analysis of the data in real-time.

The Terrorism and Extremist Violence in the United States (TEVUS) Database and Portal is based on four related open-source databases. The portal compiles behavioral, geographic, and temporal characteristics of extremist violence in the United States dating back to 1970. Through the portal, users are able to build search queries based on four data types including specific events, perpetrators of an act of terrorism or an extremist crime, groups, and/or court cases related to terrorism and extremist crime in the United States. The TEVUS Portal allows users access to data related to terrorist incidents, pre-incident activities, and extremist crimes in the United States and identifies relationships between these events and perpetrators, groups, and court cases in a dynamic, unique interface.

TEVUS

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Conflict Oriented Data-sets & Descriptions

The Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) has recorded ongoing violent conflicts since the 1970s. The data provided are some of the most accurate and well-used data-sources on global armed conflicts and its definition of armed conflict is becoming a standard in how conflicts are systematically defined and studied. 

UCDP

ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project) is designed for disaggregated conflict analysis and crisis mapping. This dataset codes the dates and locations of all reported political violence and protest events in over 60 developing countries. Political violence includes events that occur within civil wars and periods of instability.

ACLED collects real-time data on political violence and protest in both African and Asian states. Real-time data is available on this website and at the Climate Change and African Political Stability Project (CCAPS) website. All ACLED data can be downloaded on this site by country in excel and GIS formats. While the information is designed for disaggregated conflict analysis and crisis mapping, these data can be used in any GIS, mapping program, or statistical package.

Please see the codebook for further details on conflict categories, actors, events and sources. The user guide provides guidance on downloading and reading files. A list of sources of data on governance, development, population, climate change, gender, aid and other topics can be found in the data bank file.

These data contain information on:

  • Dates and locations of conflict events;
  • Specific types of events including battles, civilian killings, riots, protests and recruitment activities;
  • Events by a range of actors, including rebels, governments, militias, armed groups, protesters and civilians;
  • Changes in territorial control; and
  • Reported fatalities.

ACLED

The WomanStats Project is a team of approximately twelve undergraduate research assistants, seven graduate research assistants, thirteen principal investigators, and over 120 former student assistants. We are dedicated to the continual expansion of the WomanStats Database, as well as the pursuit of our research agenda assessing the relationship between the situation and security of women, and the dynamics between security, stability, and the behavior of the state.  The WomanStats Project began in 2001 with the aim of investigating the link between the security and behavior of states and the situation and security of the women within them. Since that time, it has grown to include thirteen principal investigators at nine universities across four countries, representing six fields of study: international relations, geography, psychology, sustainable development, statistics, and sociology. The Project has also been a source of mentoring to over 120 students, many of whom have gone on to post-graduate work.

The WomanStats Project is constructing what is already the most comprehensive database on the status of women cross-nationally (available at http://womanstats.org ). Containing over 170,000 data points and growing every day, it covers over 350 variables for 175 nations with populations greater than 200,000 persons. Variables include those relating to nine aspects of women’s situation and security:

  • Women’s Physical Security
  • Women’s Economic Security
  • Women’s Legal Security
  • Women’s Security in the Community
  • Women’s Security in the Family
  • Security for Maternity
  • Women’s Security Through Voice
  • Security Through Societal Investment in Women 
  • Women’s Security in the State

womanstats

The Political Terror Scale meas­ures levels of polit­ic­al vi­ol­ence and ter­ror that a coun­try ex­per­i­ences in a par­tic­u­lar year based on a 5-level “ter­ror scale” ori­gin­ally de­veloped by Free­dom House. The data used in com­pil­ing this in­dex comes from three dif­fer­ent sources: the yearly coun­try re­ports of Am­nesty In­ter­na­tion­al, the U.S. State De­part­ment Coun­try Re­ports on Hu­man Rights Prac­tices, and Human Rights Watch’s World Re­ports.

PTS

The Fund for Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security using the

A leader in the conflict assessment and early warning field, the Fund for Peace focuses on the problems of weak and failing states. Our objective is to create practical tools and approaches for conflict mitigation that are useful to decision-makers.

The Fund for Peace has worked in over 50 countries with a wide range of partners in all sectors: governments, international organizations, the military, nongovernmental organizations, academics, journalists, civil society networks, and the private sector.

Combining social science techniques with information technology, we have produced the patented Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST), a content analysis software product that provides a conceptual framework and a data gathering technique for measuring conflict risk.

We produce The Failed States Index, an annual ranking of 177 countries across 12 indicators, that is published by Foreign Policy magazine.  The Fund for Peace offers a wide range of initiatives focused on our central objective of promoting sustainable security, the ability of a state to solve its own problems peacefully without an external military or administrative presence. Our activities relate to three interconnected themes:

  • Conflict Early Warning and Assessment
  • Transnational Threats
  • Sustainable Development & Security

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The CTC launched the Harmony Program in 2005 in order to release and analyze documents from the Department of Defense’s Harmony database. The focus of this program is to contextualize the inner-functioning of al-Qa’ida, its associated movement, and other security threats through primary source documents. Harmony products released by the CTC are always accompanied by an analytical report and the primary source material from which its conclusions are based. By releasing this material, the CTC aims to make these sources, which are captured in the course of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters, available to other scholars for further study.

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