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30 Terrorism Databases and Data Sets: a New Inventory

perspectives-on-terrorism-10-5Journal abstract

This Research Note is a follow up on an similar one, published under the title ‘Terrorism Events Data: An Inventory of Databases and Data Sets, 1968-2017’ in Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. XI, Issue 4 (2017). While the previous inventory covered 60 databases and data sets, this one describes 30 in the same three categories:

(i) Academic, Think Tank and Independent Databases (n =21)
(ii) Commercial Databases (n = 5) and
(iii) Governmental Databases (n =4).

Most of these data refer to terrorism, yet a few are broader, covering other forms of political violence as well as armed conflicts.

The present inventory, as well as the previous one, reflects the increasing availability of quantitative terrorism related data. The format for some of these databases and data sets has changed considerably over the years. The simple chronological design and linear nature of early terrorism events data sets from the late 1960’s has been transformed by technology into an array of 21st century relational database systems, with sophisticated front-end web-based interfaces. However, the integrity of terrorism data must be the cardinal principal before the application of smart user interfaces. In other words, one should not confuse attractive visual databases on terrorism data with greater accuracy and authority. Classic simple data sets built on sound methodological design (e.g. items 6, 10 and 15 below) can have as much quantitative and qualitative value when compared with more modern web-based counterparts.

Thorough and rigorous design methodology and validity checks produce data that researchers can have confidence in. When researchers can combine the trinity of rigour, database functionality and sophisticated web-based design, the results can be an authoritative and powerful database system (e.g. item 17).

The terrorism databases and data sets outlined below present an eclectic mix of generalised terrorism events data and more niche subject areas of terrorism and political violence. Many are generated from open source data (e.g. items 1, 9 and 14). Increasingly, some commercially based organisations are providing subscriptionbased services that charges clients for terrorism related information and data (e.g. items 22, 25 and 26). These commercially based services often provide clients with bespoke terrorism intelligence and data required by companies operating or setting up businesses within terrorism and conflict affected regions of the world. The paucity of local terrorism and intelligence data gatherers in these regions provide an opportunity for specialist companies such as Control Risks (item 22) to fill a vacuum that generalised terrorism databases and data sets do not cover.

Development of new terrorism database systems is not the sole domain of universities, think-tanks and commercial providers. American and European governments have a long-established tradition in developing their own terrorism database systems. However, the recent creation by the Government of Pakistan of its own National Counter Terrorism Database (item 28) indicates a move by some governments outside the northern hemisphere to generate their own ‘home-grown’ database systems. Consequently, country co-operation between national counter-terrorism database systems in conjunction with trusted reciprocating partners, can provide intelligence and law enforcement agencies with richer intelligence data.

The entries below offer a representative cross-section of terrorism databases and terrorism data sets that should ISSN 2334-3745 52 October 2018 PERSPECTIVES ON TERRORISM Volume 12, Issue 5 be of use to researchers in terrorism studies. The list is not definitive. Additional terrorism databases and data sets will be listed in a future Research Note in this journal by the same compiler. Hopefully, by then there should be also some databases on counter-terrorist operations available – currently one of the lacunae in the field.

In most cases, the entries are clickable links to the data storage sites. All website links have been validated as of 7 October 2018.

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