Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 28, 2007

UMD Terror Database, Now Public, Should Inform Risk Analysis

Filed under: Risk Assessment,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Jonah Czerwinski on May 28, 2007

The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) made its terrorism attack database publicly available.  It provides a unique service for understanding the big picture, but other uses may include adding depth to the challenge of understanding risk in the context of terrorism threats. With content covering about 80,000 incidents between 1970 and 2004 (details on the period through 2007 forthcoming), it provides one of the few data sources for risk analysis of this scope and detail.  Intentional attacks disallow a conventional approach to gauging risk because data points (incidents) are the result of adaptive causes (perpetrators). 

Because factors other than frequency and severity should inform assessments of terrorism risk, it is noteworthy that the START database includes 45 factors (~140 in the next version) that can be used to determine antecedent markers, common vulnerabilities, and other trends of that emerge from a deep look at past cases. The Congressional Research Service waded into the subject of risk as outlined in this post.

Other helpful resources for understanding trends and historical data in terrorism include an excellent visual representation by Claire Rubin and William Cumming found here.  Their terrorism timeline provides a useful and evolving snapshot of terrorism and other “major incidents” since the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The juxtaposition of these events with corresponding or concidental policy outcomes that include federal policies, exercises, plans, and statute is of particular value.

While trend setting is one way of judging risk, another is just plain insight and anticipation of likely events, outcomes, and relevant impact based on good information.  Exclusive Analysis, a London-based firm with staff scattered around the globe, produces what might be among the best ongoing risk analysis out there serving everything from governments to private sector clients of a range of sizes.  They publish a subscription-only “Intelligence Bulletin” focused on regions and/or industry sectors.  Its a pithy yet detailed distillation that publishes daily.  The value here is a targeted concept of risk (i.e. inclusive, but not anything and everything) that nevertheless rules in just about every factor from local changes in laws pertaining to chemical stewardship or privacy practices to consequential government deliberations about planned interventions and interests overseas.  Worth looking into at this site.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print

4 Comments »

Trackback by University Update

May 28, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

UMD Terror Database, Now Public, Should Inform Risk Analysis…

Trackback by Blogs of War

May 29, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

Need to Know – 05/29/2008…

Need to Know is a short roundup of key blog posts that should not be missed on your cruise through the blogosphere. The number of links in the roundup may vary but if you find it here you can trust that it’s must-read material.
The Captain’…

Pingback by Blogs of War » Need to Know - 05/29/2008

May 29, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

[...] Homeland Security Watch The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) made its terrorism attack database publicly available. It provides a unique service for understanding the big picture, but other uses may include adding depth to the challenge of understanding risk in the context of terrorism threats. With content covering about 80,000 incidents between 1970 and 2004 (details on the period through 2007 forthcoming), it provides one of the few data sources for risk analysis of this scope and detail. Intentional attacks disallow a conventional approach to gauging risk because data points (incidents) are the result of adaptive causes (perpetrators). [...]

Comment by Claire Rubin

May 29, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

Thanks for mentioning the Terrorism Time Line.
Please note that we also have prepared a Disaster Time Line and soon will have a Century Time Line, covering the years 1900-2005. See project website for more details.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>