III. Crisis Mapping in Syria.

 

Interaction type Public→ Government
Trigger event
Domain Humanitarian Mapping / Disaster Mapping
Organisation Syria Tracking (ST) part of Humanitarian Tracking
Actors U.S. activists, Ushahidi, numerous human rights organisations and Locals.
Data sets Google Maps in HealthMap platform.
Process Hybrid model in near time data collection and manipulation by a small team of volunteers.
Feedback –          A continually updated list of eye witness reports from within Syria, often accompanied by media links.

–          Aggregate reports including analysis and visualizations of deaths and atrocities in Syria.

–          A stream of content-filtered media from news, social media (Twitter and Facebook) and official sources.

Goal Preservation of the name and the location of every victim so that these crimes not to be forgotten.
Side effects
Impact of the project Impact in a local level & Potential impact to the governmental body.
Temporal pattern Ongoing process.
Funding of the project
Contact point

Syrian Crisis Mapping first started in 2011, by US volunteers who were located in the area, when Uprising burst out. The project is still active according to the online reports and mainstream news six years later in order to document human right violations and killings in the affected by the War area. Due to its nature and its severity, the project attracts attention of volunteers who have already submitted 6544 reports anonymously [April 01 2011 to May 15 2017].

The approach is based on a hybrid model where data is collected either with automated methods or crowdsourced ones. The automated method collects data from English online media resources such as online news and blogs. As the ST Team underlines, their data mining platform “draws from a broad range of sources to reduce reporting biases.” (Irevolutions, 2012). The crowdsourced technique is based on citizens’ participation who may submit eye-witness reports and share information via webform, email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and voicemail. To protect the volunteers and encourage participation, detailed information over security precautions is given in an instruction page and a practical guide.

Syria Tracker (ST) which is a project of Humanitarian Tracker is powered by Ushahidi’s cloud-based platform, Crowdmap. To cope with data mining, the HealthMap platform has been modified to serve this project’s needs. HealthMap platform uses Google map as basemap. Also, data manipulation is done by volunteers who receive the reports which are sent by the volunteers, translate, georeference, code and verify them in order to make them public. The reports are also filtered and duplications due to the hybrid approach are removed. According to Irevolutions (2012), ST Team and their volunteers have been able to verify almost 90% of the documented killings mapped on their platform thanks to video and/or photographic evidence. Moreover, the turn-around time for a report to be mapped on Syria Tracker is between 1-3 days. The ST team collaborates with various organizations to reach its target such as “Women under Siege”, “The stand by Taskforce” e.tc.

The inspirers of the project aim the data to be used by the forthcoming governments so that justice to be given for the crimes that have been committed. Syria Tracker’s ultimate goal is not simply record plain numbers of violations but preserve the name and the location of every victim so that these crimes will not be forgotten. The material of Libya crisis mapping only recently was received for further investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Amnesty International (AI).

Main lessons:

  • A hybrid model where data is collected with both automated and crowdsourced methods work well.
  • A disaster response project may be an ongoing effort and not an on-off event when circumstances are
  • Crowd sourced maps in conflict areas are necessary to ensure anonymity for the users.
  • Social media offer a near real time information in data collection so that the map to be always updated.

References:

Crisis Mapping Syria: Automated Data Mining and Crowdsourced Human Intelligence

https://syriatracker.crowdmap.com/page/index/1

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