Animation: World terrorism 2004-2011Posted: September 23, 2011
After the terror attacks of nine-eleven the USA set out to fight terrorism. It has been a succesful quest in the sense that the Americans themselves have not been hit by terrorist since – but others have. According to statistics from the American Worldwide Incident Tracking System 37,798 lethal attacks have been carried out since 2004 killing 174,547. That’s a lot of nine-elevens.
Since the WITS provides such easily accessible data it would be a shame not to do something with it. So I did and this is what I ended up with (click to open in new window):
A few words about how I did this visualization.
The basic data was really easy to gather here. I just filtered the attacks with ten or more casualties and downloaded the spreadsheet from WITS. The challenge was to geocode the places. I hadn’t done this before.
I wrote a Ruby script that called the Yahoo Place Finder API to transform the place names to longitudes and latitudes. For some reason a few locations got completely wrong coordinates (I started to wonder when the USA was suddenly hit by major attacks that I had never heard of). These were filtered away.
For the map I used the provided Albers example as a base script. With some assistance from this thread on Google groups I managed to figure out how to make a map in d3 (my heureka moment was when I realized that you can modify d3.geo.js to center the world map wherever you want).
A lot could have been done to polish the animation. One could have added some sort of timeline with key events, graphs and so on. But I think this is a pretty neat base for visualizing, lets says, earthquakes of other catastrophes. And you gotta like a viz on black.