29/9/2015

KAICIID Peace Map: Visualizing global peace activities with data collected by-hand

 

Last week, KAICIID, in collaboration with the International Peace Institute and the Harvard Pluralism Project, launched 'Peace Map', a visualization of 400 organizations that work in the peace dialogue field.

The project is made up of two components. Firstly, it aims to reveal the scope of interreligious dialogue (IRD) across the globe through a directory of internationally engaged IRD organisations, and secondly it seeks to facilitate an understanding of the factors that shape IRD conflict mitigation activities through an interactive map.

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Data extraction

As of early September 2015, the project has tracked 421 organizations. To ensure that the project provides an all-encompassing and consistent picture, inclusion in the directory was decided on three main criteria:

1. The organization proclaims to have IRD activities or programmes;
2. The organization has international outreach; and
3. The organization has own website.

Notably, the database was constructed from online information by hand, rather than utilizing automated data extraction or scraping tools. We spoke to Karsten Lehmann, the Peace Map Project Leader, about why a manual method was chosen.

"This approach is primarily due to two reasons: First, we wanted to do the web-search in 9 major world languages. This would have asked for very complex automatized search tools. Second, we were looking for very detailed information to be displayed on the peace map. In order to provide this information we had to be most careful with regards to the formatting of the information," explained Lehmann.

The manual process also included rigorous data validation protocols, in which unverified organizations were contacted directly by the research team. Significantly, about 95% of the organizations that were contacted provided corrections to the data that KAICIID had collected, indicating the importance of cleaning and checking data even when it is extracted by hand.

Data visualization

Beyond simply providing a database of IRD organisations, the Peace Map project provides the opportunity to analyse the complex environment in which they work through a variety of thematic maps, environmental filters and audiovisual personal stories.

According to Lehmann, an interactive map interface was chosen in order to make the data as accessible as possible, but more creative visualizations may be incorporated as the IRD directory develops.

One particular feature that he noted was the project's Dialogue Voices initiative. In this section, audiovisual stories from IRD practitioners are showcased via embedded YouTube videos, providing a human-side to map's data driven visualization.

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Insights and impact

Analysis of the Peace Map has already illustrated a revealing picture of the IRD space. For example, about 70% of IRD organizations are not affiliated with any religion or faith. In addition, more than 80% of the directory's organizations work specifically in conflict resolution. For Patrice Brodeur, Director of Programmes and Research at KAICIID, this kind of information can have a powerful impact on how IRD stakeholders interact and, ultimately, "motivate all those with an interest in peace to strengthen resilience and mobilize early action".

"What the Peace Map shows is a growing number of organisations that promote not only dialogue between followers of different religions but also the many ways this dialogue leads to cooperation between different groups, including religious groups, on many pressing issues. Such dialogue in action can also help mitigate conflict, and allow us all to get on with the pressing task of ensuring sustainable development and human rights for all," concluded Brodeur.

Leverage the project's data and resources for your stories

You can download the IRD directory data in a CSV file based on KAICIID's predefined schema. For more specified data, you can download personalized searches by clicking the 'list' button next to the search field. If you are looking to collect the data from a particular organization, this can also be downloaded by clicking onto the 'download' button on the left hand side of its information sheet.

Head over to the KAICIID Peace Map project page for more information.

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