John Beiler, Penn State doctoral candidate, has managed to came up with the 250 million protests worldwide, from 1979-2013, visualized in one time-lapse image.
The idea is interesting and the result is very good-looking, but where does all this data come from? Sure more than one can observe some inaccuracies on it. For example, some cities seem to be worse than Sodoma taking all the protests in specific regions when that was not truly the case. Access to information previous to the internet era seem also not so easy in some regions.
Despite the less accuracy of past data, what information does it have about the protests? Can it be used to predict future instabilities in certain regions, specially with more recent data that is far more accurate?
The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979. Since April 1st 2013 they are even more ambitious and are adding a daily record with all the events that had happened world-wide!!! Imagine how powerful this could be in 5 years!
Kalev Leetaru, co-creator of GDELT, said it’s being used by academics and financial institutions as a kind of global day book. The idea is to use it in true big data fashion, for example, loading everything publicly reported about the war in Afghanistan and looking for patterns to forecast future behavior.