A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Open-Source Geospatial Analysis of Criminal Activity


Open-Source Geospatial Analysis of Criminal Activity

Investigators: 
Other START Researchers: 
Joshua House

Project Details

Abstract: 

This project is a pilot involving an open source geographic information analysis of criminal activity on the southwest border of the United States in conjunction with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). This project will gauge whether START can support Department of Homeland Security (DHS) targeting by identifying and processing sources of foreign language open source information that can be integrated into DHS targeting efforts. Because START has an ensemble of open source analysts organic to its organization, START may be capable of generating lists of open sources and corresponding data attributes that DHS Targeting and Analysis Systems Program Directorate (TASPD) could consume into a data warehouse to achieve DHS counter-network priorities.

Primary Findings: 

This pilot study constructed an event database for cartel activities in Mexico over the course of one year. Findings suggest high levels of cartel violence in central Mexico. There is significant repression of reporting throughout Mexico and this causes significant issue with using open source information to detail activities and trends.

Methodology: 

The database was built upon open-source news articles gathered from an open-source database. The articles were then scored using automated textual analysis to determine if the articles included high probability words from our cartel dictionary. The articles were then hand-coded into the database.

Timeframe

Project Period: 
January 2017 to June 2018