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

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Message from the Global Terrorism Database Manager


Message from the Global Terrorism Database Manager

August 15, 2018Erin Miller

Below is a statement from Dr. Erin Miller, Global Terrorism Database Manager:

For more than a decade, START has compiled and published the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) for use by scholars, analysts, journalists, security professionals, and policy makers.[1] It has been our privilege to work closely with these user communities to continually improve the data and inform stakeholders.

Since 2012, the majority of the costs of collecting the GTD have been funded by the U.S. State Department, for the past year almost exclusively. Our contract with the State Department ended in May 2018 and, although we received only positive feedback from the Bureau of Counterterrorism and our 2018 data collection was well underway, we recently learned that we were not awarded a follow-on contract for base data collection.

At the moment, the loss of the State Department funding means two things: First, we do not currently have funding to complete collection of 2018 data, nor are we able to publish data beyond 2017.

Second, although we sincerely value engaging with analysts, journalists, and policy makers to provide consultation, specialized analysis, and responses to requests for information (RFI), the GTD team does not currently have the resources to provide this service absent funding.

We have been proud to make the GTD a public good; the full dataset has been downloaded 89,000 times since 2007 and the average number of downloads per month has increased from 500 in 2014 to more than 2,000 in 2018 as we have worked to improve the data relentlessly. We’re proud to have answered thousands of RFIs. We’re hopeful that we can secure funding to allow us to continue serving as a public good, and as always, we urge users to contact us at gtd@start.umd.edu with feedback about the database.

Despite this concerning development, there is some reason to be optimistic. Consistent with the GTD team’s ethos of constant improvement, we are proud to say that the Department of Defense Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office will be funding START to make significant improvements to the GTD once again. In response to numerous requests for more frequent delivery of GTD data, START will greatly improve the efficiency of our GTD data collection and dissemination capabilities over the next year without compromising the accuracy of the data. This will ultimately make the GTD more timely and useful. Ideally, doing so will help us secure funding for base data collection from a variety of sponsors in such a way that better reflects the diversity of organizations that rely on the GTD.

If your organization uses the GTD and would like to explore options in which you can support data collection in full or in part, please contact us at gtd@start.umd.edu.

If you are an individual who would like to support the GTD, you may make a gift directly to START through the University of Maryland College Park Foundation (UMCPF).

Additionally, urge your Congressional representatives to support FY19 defense authorization and appropriation language supporting objective terrorism and counterterrorism data collection efforts to inform counterterrorism effectiveness.

 


[1] Collection and coding for the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is solely conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. The GTD is produced and maintained by START and the University owns all rights, title, and interest in the GTD, the data and codebook, and all auxiliary materials.