Global Heat Map of Protests in 2013

My colleague Kalev Leetaru recently launched GDELT (Global Data on Events, Location and Tone), which includes over 250 million events ranging from riots and protests to diplomatic exchanges and peace appeals. The data is based on dozens of news sources such as AFP, AP, BBC, UPI, Washington Post, New York Times and all national & international news from Google News. Given the recent wave of protests in Cairo and Istanbul, a collaborator of Kalev’s, John Beieler, just produced this digital dynamic map of protests events thus far in 2013. John left out the US because “it was a shining beacon of protest activity that distracted from the other parts of the map.” Click on the maps below to enlarge & zoom in.


Heat Map Protests


Egypt Protests



As Kalev notes, “Right now its just a [temporally] static map, it was done as a pilot just to see what it would look like in the first place, but the ultimate goal would be to do realtime updates, we just need to find someone with the interest and time to do this.” Any readers want to take up the challenge? Having a live map of protests (including US data) with “slow motion replay” functionality could be quite insightful given current upheavals. In the meantime, other stunning visualizations of the GDELT data are available here.

And to think that the quantitative analysis section of my doctoral dissertation was an econometric analysis of protest data coded at the country-year level based on just one news source, Reuters. I wonder if/how my findings would change with GDELT’s data. Anyone looking for a dissertation topic?


7 responses to “Global Heat Map of Protests in 2013

  1. Pingback: Proteste nel mondo | Webcartografie

  2. This is interesting. How does it compare (or not) with ACLED, CCAPS and such?

  3. Perhaps some distinction needs to be made for the type of protest? You could have two colors, one for violent protests/riots and one for peaceful demonstrations. America probably has far fewer of the former than places like Egypt or Libya.

  4. Relying on news sources, even if its the only publicly available option, is going to skew data against countires with more freedom of the press but otherwise an impressive endeavor.

    • Thanks Mike, yes, there is extensive academic research on this, which I reviewed closely given the relevance to my doctoral dissertation. Whether this bias is a problem ultimately depends on your research question. But unlike previous datasets, GDELT draws on far more sources than previously available. So this is a step in the right direction.

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