Archive for November, 2009


Intelligence: Early Warning Signs of Conflict

“In a way, it has become a holy grail to come up with ways to identify potential conflict before it actually erupts. Based on similar efforts to predict natural disasters and crop yields, for example, many have attempted to construct models for conflict early warning.”
- Eric Brahm, CRInfo

Based on this research publications compiled by CRInfo – The Conflict Resolution Information Source, these areas stand out as those worth monitoring for potential early warning signals to conflict:

  • sudden demographic changes and population displacement;
  • rising unemployment rates;
  • economic shocks or financial crises;
  • destruction or desecration of religious sites;
  • discrimination or legislation favoring one group over another;
  • government “clamp-downs”;
  • destabilizing referenda or elections;
  • a rise in “societal” intolerance and prejudice;
  • an increase in numbers of demonstrations or rallies;
  • foreign intervention;
  • an influx of refugees
  • drought and famine

Currently a tremendous amount of research and attention is being dedicated to the last bullet: drought and famine. Even the CIA has opened a Center On Climate Change to asses the “national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources.” Simply put, there is significant and mounting evidence that climate change impacts nation state stability and is a contributing factor to conflict throughout the world. It seems rational that droughts will lead to crop shortages, which in turn lead to famine, which then contributes to instability of nation states and potentially conflict.

If we can spot these signals, or early warning signs through open source intelligence with Recorded Future we can better prepare policy makers, humanitarian aid works, and national security intelligence officials.

Using our geo overlay we can see a high-level view of drought around the world. India clearly stands out as a hot spot (click the map to zoom in).

With the dynamic charting capability we can focus our analysis more narrowly on drought only in India. Based on this increase in activity it may make sense to focus more on India and look for early warning signs of decreased crop yields, food shortages, and famine.

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We can also use this chart feature to get an overview of famine around the world.

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Likewise we can explore events related to desertification – with for example an interesting hit on Nambia. We want to hear your ideas! Feel free to post your thoughts below.

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We can use Recorded Future to monitor these topics, across the world or narrow to a specific region of interest.


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