WarViews: Visualizing and Animating Geographic Data on Civil War


  • Author’s note: The authors would like to thank Mark Thompson for linguistic advice. Nils Weidmann is supported by ETH (Research Grant TH -4/05-3). Google Earth is a registered trademark of Google Inc. The authors are in no way affiliated with Google Inc.


In the recent years, the field of conflict research has produced new findings on the relation between conflict and geography. In doing so, new data sets have been created with the help of GIS software. These data sets include variables relevant for the study of conflict with a spatial component. However, the use of geographic data requires specialized software and substantial training and therefore involves high entry costs for researchers and practitioners. This paper introduces the WarViews project whose aim is to create an easy-to-use front end for the exploration of GIS data on conflict. It takes advantage of the recent proliferation of Internet-based geographic software and makes geographic data on conflict available for these tools. With WarViews, geographic data on conflict can be accessed, browsed, and time-animated in a few mouse clicks, using only standard software. As a result, a wider audience can take advantage of the valuable data contained in these databases, for example, as supplementary data for conflict case studies or for classroom demonstrations. We present two versions of WarViews. The static version runs in a web browser and allows the user to switch between different data sets. The dynamic version is based on Google Earth and can time-animate geographic data such that the development over time can be monitored. The WarViews website can be freely accessed at http://www.icr.ethz.ch/research/warviews.