PREDICTING POLITICAL HOTSPOTS
     
See the presentation of the model.
In 2011 a global, comparative model was presented that predicts the likehood of domestic violence against the state. A risk assessment model of political violence that possibly can systematically predict the eruption of domestic violence against governments with a reasonable amount of accuracy. The model accounts for factors like repression, governmental aid to nongovernmental organizations, aid to countries to help build security, and internet and mobile phone usage and is based on coercion (violations of physical rights), coordination (how easily a domestic group can mobilize) and capacity (ability of a country to protect itself throughout its territory).

Europe tackles its economic and financial troubles and the question gains prominence of how a moment of weakness affects the ability of European governments to curb domestic unrest and political discontent. On the list are not only Greece, Spain and Ireland, but also countries as Belgium, Austria, Albania, Italy and Czech Republic. What factors make domestic politcal violence more likely and can we forecast it? What makes people take to the streets? A topical subject. A global, comparative model was presented that predicts the likehood of domestic violence against the state. A risk assessment model of political violence that possibly can systematically predict the eruption of domestic violence against governments with a reasonable amount of accuracy. The model accounts for factors like repression, governmental aid to nongovernmental organizations, aid to countries to help build security, and internet and mobile phone usage and is based on coercion (violations of physical rights), coordination (how easily a domestic group can mobilize) and capacity (ability of a country to protect itself throughout its territory).

The model is created by Sam Bell and Amanda Murdie, both Kansas State University professors, together with David Cingranelli, Binghamton University. So far it's been pretty accurate". The model was developed for Milcord, an Open Innovation company that builds knowledge management solutions for federal agencies. The model predicts not only violence in countries like Honduras and Iran, but also in western democracies.

To create the forecast model, the researchers built a database using publicly available information on 150 countries. It contains the frequency and intensity of domestic political violence from 1990-2009. According to Bell, this violence includes anything from a sit-in that turns into a physical altercation to an embassy bombing. Although other forecast models have been created, this is one of the most encompassing, Murdie said. It accounts for factors like repression, governmental aid to nongovernmental organizations, aid to countries to help build security, and Internet and mobile phone usage.

In order to forecast domestic political violence, three concepts are accounted for: coercion, coordination and capacity. Coercion is defined by violations of physical rights. This heightens the motivation of protestors, according to Murdie.
"I think that was one of the biggest findings from our model: that adhering to basic human rights limits the political violence," she said. "In covering all these countries and in looking at this passage of time, we find that human rights crackdowns still hurt a country the most, even to this day. "There's this tendency for government to be reactionary and crack down on political rights in order to suppress political violence, but we find that crackdowns lead to this mobilization effect where people take to the streets," she said. "The
human rights crackdowns don't stop insurgency; they help fuel it."

The second concept, coordination, is how easily a domestic group can mobilize. "Two summers ago in Iran we really saw the YouTube and Twitter effect in regard to a population's ability to coordinate and increase the level of violence," Murdie said. This mobile coordination can either quickly diffuse or escalate the level of violence.

Capacity, the third factor, is the ability of a country to project itself throughout its territory, thus limiting the intensity of domestic violence against government.

Although the current model operates at a macro level, Bell said it's possible to isolate certain countries and aggregate a much smaller time frame from the current five-year forecast. The researchers have also thought about using the database to create a risk assessment for civilian terrorism against other citizens.

The Domestic Political Violence Forecasting Model has been developed under the Predictive Societal Indicators of Radicalism project sponsored by the Air Force Research Labs Rome Research Laboratory. The model is constructed from a large numer of dependent and independent variables. Resources matter. For instance aid to ngo's, mobile phones, the internet, GDP, military personnel, electric power consumption represent variables to measure domestic political violence. Also the CIRI dataset and OECD date include to process changes in expected domestic political violence and to achieve accuracy and recall.

A list of the top 37 countries projected to experience civil unrest between now and 2014 and updates on forecast accuracy can be found online at http://radicalism.milcord.com/blog