Take the 2-minute tour ×
Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was idly speculating on the many sorts of things people are keeping track of these days with GIS - natural/human catastrophes, demographic and economic patterns, climate change, etc. In that vein, I started to look around for GIS' applications in war and international conflicts. There are many obvious uses for it in the military, but is there any database or publicly accessible application that organizes war-related information in a spatial and/or cartographic context? Time would undoubtedly play an integral role in any robust methodology. The most I was able to find was an in-progress database for tracking war crimes. What else is out there for public consumption, if anything?

share|improve this question
3  
As I look over all the great answers, I wonder at how I should go about picking one. I had no specific database or type of conflict in mind. Is this more of a wiki style question? –  Nathanus Mar 27 '11 at 23:48
1  
Seems wiki to me. Given the role facebook has played, I wonder if there are any crowdsourced situation awareness mobile mapping apps used in the revolts. –  Kirk Kuykendall Mar 29 '11 at 14:44
    
+1 - Great question Nathanus!! Very thought provoking! –  Dano Jul 28 '11 at 23:11
    
Actaully - =1 everyone!! "If I give one to you .... I have to give one to everybody"!!! All great answers! –  Dano Jul 28 '11 at 23:17

14 Answers 14

up vote 29 down vote accepted
  • Diego Valle-Jones has done some interesting work analysing and mapping Mexico's drug war (R code on github). Wikinarco provides webmap interface to some drug related crime statistics in Mexico.

enter image description here

Now interactive map is also available:

enter image description here

  • The Economist has also done some mapping of drug related deaths, cartel areas and traffic routes.

enter image description here

enter image description here


  • French OWNI provides nice web frontend for Wikileak's diplomatic cables. There seems to be map app, but it didn't work for me. Telegraph came with a web map as well.

enter image description here


  • For Iraq Wikileaks data visualization mentioned already by Kirk there is also interesting visualization from placr. For 'nonspatial' browsing check OWNI's app.

  • And before Iraq, Guardian and The Atlantic also tried to visualize selection of Afgan Wikileaks data.

enter image description here

  • OWNI provides 'nonspatial' browser again. Nai's MediaWatch team provides spatio-temporal overview of the violence against journalists.

enter image description here



Update 1: Recently stumbled upon Guardian's visualization of Nato attacks in Libya.

enter image description here


Update 2: Although not a military conflict per se, London riots start to fit description of this question as well. Slashgeo points to few geovisualizations on the topic. Guardian maps location of suspects, riots against poverty. And GENeSIS analyzes geolocated tweets.


Update 3: Interesting visualization of protected areas & civil conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo.


Update 4: Somalian Piracy Threat Map 2010 from Wikipedia article.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
3  
Went ahead and accepted this answer for its depth and variety of suggestions for further digging. I'm especially interested in the drug war. –  Nathanus Mar 29 '11 at 12:46
1  
Thanks for the updates. You're on top of this. –  Nathanus Aug 16 '11 at 17:37
1  
The Guardian are very good about analysing and mapping data in general, and have a good blog at: guardian.co.uk/news/datablog –  Mark Ireland Aug 16 '11 at 19:15

This is a good starting point:

http://www.prio.no/CSCW/Datasets/Armed-Conflict/

share|improve this answer

For better or worse, I'm surprised WikiLeaks' CableViewer doesn't include a map UI. They do organize the data by country.

Update

After searching, I see the Guardian has created a map of Wikileaks Iraq war logs, a different leak that came out before the cable leak.

share|improve this answer
    
Aren't these two different 'leaks'? –  radek Mar 25 '11 at 23:29
1  
@radek: yes, answer edited to reflect that. –  Kirk Kuykendall Mar 29 '11 at 14:47

Here' another war crimes mapping initiative that's partnered w/ Google for very compelling presentation in Google Earth.

share|improve this answer

Not exactly what you are asking for but here is some information on public domain data related to terrorist attacks.

There are two databases that currently store data on terrorist attacks. One is the START data via the University of Maryland. The other is a data collection, Worldwide Incidents Tracking System, collected by the National Counterterrorism Center. I have not seen either extensively used in any mapping application, although they have geographic identifiers that would allow them to be.


While I see radek updated some of his awesome examples, I will give some updates too!

War Stuff

I read this excellent paper

O'loughlin, John & Frank Witmer. 2011. The Localized Geographies of Violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999–2007. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(1): 178-201

And I see that they have a webpage of the data used as well as copies of that and several other manuscripts. The same individuals have another webpage of data and manuscripts looking at Violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan using the wikileaks data and another data set I don't think has been mentioned here, Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED)

Terrorism Stuff

The Journal of Quantitative Criminology has a forthcoming thematic issue on the Quantitative Approaches to the study of Terrorism (currently the issue is all within the online first section). Two of those articles incorporates spatial analysis into the articles

Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Terrorist Attacks by ETA 1970 to 2007 (Lafree et al., 2011)

This article likely uses the START data I referred to earlier. Unfortunately I can not find a publicly available copy of the paper, but it may be available on the START publications page in the future. The data is public though regardless.

There is another article in that issue that conducts spatial analysis (Braithwaite & Johnson, 2011), but they don't appear to be using a public data source. There is an earlier publication that is similar (Townsley et al., 2008 PDF). It also reminds me another project I was aware of, SCARE (via an All Points Blog Post) which uses similar IED data (just for reference). If anyone knows where/how to get similar SIGACTS data let me know in a comment.

share|improve this answer
    
No, this is fine. :) Definitely within the scope of my curiosity. Thank you! –  Nathanus Mar 26 '11 at 3:08

The NYT has a map that tracks day-by-day changes in the Libyan revolt. (Via the MapRoom).

share|improve this answer
    
Awesome. I'd been hoping to find one of these. –  Nathanus Mar 30 '11 at 17:38

The NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) makes available up-to-date "Anti-Shipping Activity Messages" (aka "pirate data") which includes locations and descriptive accounts of specific hostile acts against ships world-wide. The data is also available in GIS data formats such as shapefiles, KML and file geodatabase.

http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=msi_portal_page_65

share|improve this answer

I can't seem to get it to work now but I used to peruse a very informative and easily navigable interactive map of civil war battles.
It used a map and allowed you to select battles.
Which would then animate with timing (advancements) and decisions (written in scrolling popup) and allowed the user to step through the battles.

This is not what you call current but certainly displays "war-related information in a spatial and/or cartographic context?".

Civil war battle maps.
This just went up on ESRIs website yesterday. Charleston City Map
Similar to Andy Ws link this is a global incident map.

share|improve this answer
    
I daresay GIS is just as interested in the past as it is in present and future. Very interesing! –  Nathanus Mar 26 '11 at 16:25

enter image description here

The LRA Crisis Tracker tracks the activities of the Lords Resistance Army, which will hopefully bring its leader, Joseph Kony, to justice.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

There's an article here which gives a write up of an interesting Ushahidi deployment to monitor the conflict in Iraq on behalf of Mercy Corps.

http://letthemtalk.org/2013/02/18/what-the-red-dots-are-for-or-why-we-map-part-1-iraq/

I'm not sure if it's been deployed yet and whether they will include public content.

There are also plenty of data sets available online which are already geotagged but not necessarily available to view on a spatial platform. If you have such data, there are easy ways to map it using some great free tools to provide filtering, temporal analysis, custom views, etc.

We have access to data in Iraq which we have visualized. Unfortunately, it is proprietary to a third party but we may be able to open it up for analytical purposes. An example heatmap of violence in Iraq in 2011 is available at this link: Iraq Heatmap

share|improve this answer

Continuing the nuclear bomb theme, here's an interesting video visualizing every nuclear bomb detonation from 1945-1998.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLCF7vPanrY

From the description:

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project's "Trinity" test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan's nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea's two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing"the fear and folly of nuclear weapons." It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

share|improve this answer
1  
Nice fusion of cartography and music. I wonder what it would be like if the sounds reflected the kilo-tonnage of the explosions. –  Kirk Kuykendall Apr 1 '13 at 21:44

One of remains of war that really needs mapping are the locations of minefields, as this has practical application in daily life, and it is not just used for historical curiosity.

In Croatia my former company made a portal with minefield locations (I made some backend parts for entering new data from scanned military maps)

https://misportal.hcr.hr/

share|improve this answer

North Korea's got the the old school paper-maps-on-the-wall GIS. From ANALYSIS: North Korean Photo Reveals ‘U.S. Mainland Strike Plan’.

enter image description here

Looks like they printed Google Maps. I've never been able to figure out how to print out Google Maps. Maybe Eric Schmidt showed them how during his visit?

enter image description here

Update

The Guardian has this map with an azimuthal equidistant projection, which is perhaps more suitable for missile warfare.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
1  
Curious that they would target Austin, Texas. The Twittersphere is blowing up about it #whyaustin. Perhaps the real reason is their intelligence shows Austin as still having Nike missile sites from the '60s. –  blah238 Mar 29 '13 at 21:49
1  
@blah238 wow ... Nike sure is diverse - missiles as a sporting good. –  Kirk Kuykendall Mar 29 '13 at 22:03
    
Haha, not that Nike, this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike_%28mythology%29 –  blah238 Mar 29 '13 at 22:13

There's a review here about a recently published study: "War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies".

Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to a new mathematical model whose findings accurately match those of the historical record in the ancient world.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.