Mapping Global Terrorism

About 3 months ago I stumbled upon an interesting geodatabase that housed global terrorism data. This database was established by the University of Maryland and was very well put together. I started scrolling through the spreadsheets of metadata to check out what information they had for each act of terrorism, and I was astounding by how much detail and effort was put forth in this project. I get embarrassingly excited when I find well organized information like this, because it means running queries will be simple, thus making map generation relatively simple. I began querying with various parameters just to kind of play with with the data, and I decided that I wanted to create 3 maps based on 3 separate parameters. The first parameter being “fatalities per instance”. With this, I wanted to create a world map with every recorded act of terrorism this database had, and within each instance display the number of fatalities. I created 3 categories that would color the point/instance based on the number of people killed. A red dot meaning >19 deaths, a yellow dot meaning >5 but <20, and a green dot meaning <6.

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The second map I created was focused on a specific terrorist organization. “Al-Qaeda claimed acts of terrorism” was the second parameter I was interested in mapping. I wanted this map to be simple to read, and I wanted it to capture the mood that someone experiences when thinking about or discussing terrorism. This is why the map is made up of all dark colors. In this map you will see red points that indicate an act of terrorism that was claimed by the Al-Qaeda group, and you will see dark gray points that represent all other instances of terrorism. I acknowledge the three countries with high outlying numbers of fatalities in the map as well.

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The third and final map I created with this amazing database focuses on South Asia. I put the focus here due to the high concentration of attacks that were recorded in the region. I wanted to investigate a little as to who was responsible for most of these attacks in such a densely populated and attacked area, so I queried the data around for quite some time to figure out who the top 5 culprits were. This was my third and final parameter of interest. I wanted to display, using 5 different colors, who the top 5 terrorist organizations were based on deaths in that area. You will see the different colors for each organization in this map as well as a dark gray color for other terrorist organizations who fell below the top 5.

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All data that is displayed in the maps was obtained from the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD).

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