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Insecurity Insight

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 11.40.59Location: Geneva, Switzerland


Insecurity Insight, based in Geneva, was established by Nathan Taback, Christina Wille and Robin Coupland in 2008. The overall mission of Insecurity Insight is to generate data on the impact of armed violence and insecurity with an aim of developing a model which enables the predication of violence, and policies to prevent this. This would include, but is not limited to, the impact of IEDs.

Insecurity Insight runs the Security in Numbers Database (SiND). This database records incidents which affect aid workers and the delivery of aid. Wille told AOAV that an incident does not have to kill or injure an aid worker in order to be included in the database. The incident must however, impact upon the delivery of aid. Deaths, injuries and damage to organisations’ property are recorded.

Wille told AOAV that the recording methodology includes both open-source materials and information provided to them by humanitarian organisations. In terms of the open source data, they subscribe to news providers with a specific humanitarian outlet, such as Reuters and Relief Web, receiving daily humanitarian alerts. These alerts are then manually analysed, and any relevant incident is recorded in the database.

Secondly, Insecurity Insight works with humanitarian agencies in the field. These organisations confidentially provide Insecurity insights with information about any incidents which have impacted their delivery of aid. These incidents are then inserted into the SiND. The incidents reported by the agencies themselves are very rarely captured by open-source news reports. The incidents reported by the agencies tend to “describe how even smaller events really impact on [organisations’] ability to work.” Organisations providing data to be included in the SiND are given access to the database.

Regarding the impact of IEDs specifically, the database does not disaggregate data fully. Wille told AOAV that while they have the category of IED in their database, if any real analysis was to be done on IED attacks specifically, then the data would need to be looked at again in order to ensure that the data was coded accurately: “there may be a certain number of events that could be additionally classified if someone with a bit more specific case knowledge would look at it.”

The majority of the open source data is English language news stories, with some French. Wille told AOAV that it is difficult to get Spanish sources, and as a result, Latin America is under-represented in the database. She estimated that 80% of open sources are English language, with 19% being French and the final 1% being other languages.

The database is not available to the public, so it is difficult to analyse its content and utility.

Insecurity Insight currently works with AOAV to produce a monthly report on explosive violence globally. The organisation provides an example of an explosive weapon incident which affected the delivery of humanitarian aid, demonstrating the vast breadth of harm caused by the use of such weapons in populated areas.

This profile is part of AOAV’s investigation into counter-IED (C-IED) actors around the globe. To see the list of all C-IED actors recorded by AOAV, see here. To see those engaged in the Middle East, the Sahel, North Africa or other highly impacted countries please see here, here, here, and here respectively. This research was made possible by funding from the NATO Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Centre of Excellence (C-IED COE). To read the full report, ‘Addressing the threat posed by IEDs: National, Regional and Global Initiatives’, see here.