Ecole de la paix - Research on peace and datasets

BICC’s database/interactive map on arms exports

jeudi 14 juin 2007 par Lars Wirkus

The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), more specifically, applying web-based Geographic Information Systems (WebGIS) is carried out in two ways at BICC – on the one hand as a tool for presenting the content of an online security-related relational database, and on the other hand as an analytical and planning tool in security-related research and policy consulting projects.

Unfortunately, the discussion in Germany on arms exports often suffers from a lack of information on the situation of the recipient states. This often starts with general data which are easily accessible, such as the economic situation, then becomes more difficult with political topics such as human rights and finds its peak in the data on the military sector which can only be found in technical journals, etc. By making solid information more accessible, the evaluation of German arms exports is thus to be improved and facilitated.

Through its online database BICC publishes different data sets concerning the military sector, overall security environment, human rights situation and governance in all together 170 countries. It examines the correspondence of 170 countries to seven evaluation criteria, which are roughly based on those spelled out in the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports. For each criterion, a country is classified as either “green”, “yellow” or “red” with each colour indicating the respective degree of correspondence. In order to classify each country and to arrive at the final evaluation, BICC pools and merges a number of different data sets, for example from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the World Bank, the United Nations, or Freedom House.

As of 2007, country classifications can also be viewed as an interactive map. Using a WebGIS application an additional option for accessing the content of the database is offered. At a single glance, it provides the user with a global overview as to how countries correspond to the seven criteria, each of which may be selected. Furthermore, by selecting additional layers, each of the seven criteria can be overlaid with information concerning approved German arms exports. By generating this new, higher level of information the WebGIS demonstrates its analytical and presentational advantage over the “pure” database. Additionally all country specific information of the database can also be accessed through the map by country queries.

URL’s with regard to the arms export database :

Rough draft paper
Presentation by Lars Wirkus on BICC’s database/interactive map (mp3, password required)
Questions to Lars Wirkus (mp3)

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