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Students develop the first public database of worldwide explosive violence incidents

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Students develop the first public database of worldwide explosive violence incidents

  • Date22 October 2019

Code Groovers, a student-led commercial software development arm of the Department of Computer Science at Royal Holloway, University of London, have built an interactive database that tracks incidents of explosive violence worldwide.

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This project is part of an ongoing partnership between Royal Holloway and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), an NGO that seeks to reduce the impact of armed violence.

As of this month (October 2019), the database is now fully in the public domain allowing users to check the number of casualties recorded from explosive violence by weapon type, country, year and other filters.

The coding project was spearheaded by Julia Meister, a masters student in Computer Science at Royal Holloway, working with Dr Giorgios Koutsoukos, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science.

Professor Mike Spagat from the Department of Economics at Royal Holloway, also a member of the board of AOAV, first approached Code Groovers to implement his vision of bringing the database into the public domain with a user-friendly interface that would allow anybody to search and download the data. 

Now policy makers, academics, journalists, humanitarian agencies, charities and governments across the world can effortlessly access the data and make use of the facts and figures they find.

The data is compiled from reports of explosive violence incidents in all English language media outlets worldwide and currently holds information on more than 22,000 incidents from across 119 countries and includes data on more than 300,000 casualties.

Professor Mike Spagat said: “This project is an important step forward in an ongoing effort to bring greater transparency to conflict research and it will help raise awareness of the toll of explosive violence worldwide.”

Code Groovers is an extra-curricular initiative established at Royal Holloway in June 2017, which allows students to be the main software developers. It gives them the opportunity to acquire important skills with state-of-the-art technologies and methods and unleash their capacity to create high-quality and innovative software.

The initiative has also facilitated and supported a number of other activities, from hackathons to collaborations with industrial partners.

Dr Giorgios Koutsoukos, CEO of Code Groovers and Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Royal Holloway, said: “We are delighted to have been part of this innovative project and I would like to thank Action on Armed Violence for bringing the Code Groovers on board to develop such an important and intuitive database.

“Delivering the Action on Armed Violence online data platform is a fantastic achievement, which is a tribute to the talent, knowledge, determination and ethos of our students.

“We are fully committed to giving our students the opportunity to acquire new, important skills and to delivering value to our clients, the university and the community.”

Iain Overton, Executive Director of Action on Armed Violence commended the project in saying: “For the first time, a global monitor of explosive violence has been made available, thanks to Code Groovers at Royal Holloway.

“This tool will be valuable for academics and journalists, policy makers and humanitarian workers alike.

“It offers an insight into the true global burden of explosive violence around the world since 2011, country by country, weapon by weapon, perpetrator by perpetrator.

“Without Royal Holloway this task would not have been possible - a feat that the university should be proud of.”

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