Data Rivers 2.0

The GTD Data Rivers is an interactive visual exploratory tool that allows users to investigate temporal trends in terrorism in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). Data Rivers aggregates important variables from the database and visualizes them as a comprehensible stack chart.

A stack chart displays every attack in the GTD from 1970-2013 (over 125,000 discrete events). The thickness of each layer represents the frequency of attacks in the database, and the full chart shows the relative frequency of attacks along a particular dimension.

As an example, the default chart (Regions), creates a layer for every country in the GTD that has experienced a terrorist attack at some point since 1970. Thick layers represent regions that have had many attacks, whereas thin layers signify regions that had fewer attacks. Users can mouse-over a layer to see the region it represents and quickly see how the layer changes shape over time. One of the benefits of stack charts is that aggregate trends emerge, as layers stack up like a histogram. For guidance on the interpretation of trends over time in the GTD, see the Data Collection Methodology page.


Data Rivers 2.0 uses the dygraphs library, originally developed at Google. It is currently under development as we add more functionality and additional variables. To provide feedback on Data Rivers 2.0, please contact

The original GTD Data Rivers application was developed as a flash visualization in 2008 as a joint effort between the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and START, both at the University of Maryland. Development efforts were led by Joonghoon Lee (, under advisement from Ben Shneiderman and Adam Perer.

Additional information on the development of the GTD Data Rivers is available in the paper "Exploring Global Terrorism Data: A Web-based Visualization of Temporal Data." (J. Lee, "Exploring Global Terrorism Data: A Web-based Visualization of Temporal Data," ACM Crossroads, 15, 2, 7-16, 2008.)