SIPRI, ISN and FIRST - Open Source Data at its Best
24/02/08 11:23 Filed in: Security | Technology
I believe that publicly funded data (data from governments, the UN and other world bodies, and INGOs) should be truly public. By this I mean that anyone can easily, and without cost, access the data in a non-propietary format. No locked pdf files. No password protected databases. No one-query-at-a-time, one-answer-at-a-time forms. Just the data in a simple user accessible format.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
(SIPRI) and the International Relations and Security Network
(ISN) understand. They have teamed up to provide an integrated database known as FIRST
. FIRST contains free, open source, clearly documented information from research institutes around the world. The databases filled with hard facts on armed conflict, peace keeping, arms production and trade, military expenditure, armed forces and conventional weapons holding, nuclear weapons, security, international relations, human rights, and health statistics. Most of the data can be exported in comma-seperated value (.csv) or Excel (.xls) formats. These formats are easily imported by many analytical tools allowing the user to carry out their own processing and analysis.
As an excellent example of what can be done with data from FIRST check out Jeffrey Warren's Vestal Design
interactive data visualization of world-wide arms transactions. You can view the full Java-based visualization at ARMSFLOW
. I love this kind of thing. Effective data visualization allows you to quickly present complex data to senior level decision makers without overwhelming them.
Now if only there was a way to get NGOs to share security incident data in the same way!