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

German FFO funds GTD


German FFO funds GTD

New funding allows for preservation and improvement of world’s most cited, most comprehensive open-source terrorism database

February 25, 2019Jessica Rivinius

The German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) has awarded START more than $770,000 to support the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which along with existing funding from other agencies, will allow the GTD team to collect and code 2018-2019 data, develop a new API (application programming interface), and accelerate data collection and delivery. This support will sustain GTD data collection on terrorist attacks that take place through September 2019, preserving and improving the world’s most comprehensive, open-source terrorism database.

In the past, START has updated the GTD annually, but will now develop the capacity for quarterly data delivery to funders, and direct access to the data through an API.

The GTD includes information on more than 180,000 terrorist attacks that have occurred worldwide since 1970. It provides a more complete understanding of the dynamics, causes, and consequences of terrorism around the world by allowing users to analyze patterns including attack frequency, geo-spatial distribution, casualties including deaths as well as injured persons and hostages, the emergence and prevalence of particular tactics and targeting strategies, and the evolution of perpetrators of terrorist attacks.

The GTD’s accessible, transparent, well-documented, structured and unstructured data make it a critical resource for governments and scholars alike. It is used by thousands of analysts around the world, including government-based intelligence analysts seeking to inform policy and promote national security; academic scholars and students seeking to develop better theories and methods for understanding terrorism; data journalists seeking to better inform the public about a frequently misunderstood topic; and non-governmental/inter-governmental organizations that benefit from high-quality data for both operational and analytical purposes.

Since initially being made public in 2007, monthly downloads of the GTD have risen dramatically as the dataset continued to improve, resulting in an average of more than 1,000 downloads per month in 2018, and over 63,600 total downloads through 2018.

 “We frequently hear from GTD users in the United States and around the world who tell us about the impressive work they do to that leverages the GTD to better understand and counter terrorism,” said Dr. Erin Miller, GTD manager. “We are very appreciative of the German FFO for recognizing the importance of supporting this resource so we can not only preserve the continuity of rigorous data on terrorism around the world, but also make important improvements to our ability to deliver the data to stakeholders.”

START has compiled and published the GTD for more than a decade but has faced a challenge in securing long-term funding for base data collection.

Without funding from FFO, there would have been a lapse in GTD production, meaning that individual governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions would have needed to develop individualized, ad hoc strategies for measuring terrorism, or relied on less data-driven approaches to countering terrorism.

“With this new funding, we are able to make the GTD more timely and useful,” Miller said. “Ideally, doing so will help us secure sustainable 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.”

START continues to seek opportunities to fund the GTD beyond 2019. If your organization uses the GTD and would like to explore options to support data collection or purchase a license for commercial use, 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). START also welcomes testimonials sent to gtd@start.umd.edu  from individuals and organizations regarding the value of the GTD to ongoing analytical efforts.