An innovative way to display data tracked over the last decade in Afghanistan is now available and shows trends in violence against journalists in Afghanistan alongside contextual information about regional violence and corruption.
Available at http://data.nai.org.af, the reports were compiled by Nai, an Afghan media development and vocational education agency, and displayed visually though a partnership with Development Seed, a U.S. based communications agency with a focus on geographic mapping. The effort is part of the USAID-funded Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Project, which is implemented by the media development organization Internews.
Journalists in Afghanistan work under extremely difficult circumstances and routinely face violence, threats, and intimidation that prevent them from carrying out their work. The new dynamic map visualizes the challenges journalists face and allows other civil-society organizations and the public to interact with the data.
“This interactive map enables us to tell the story of the struggles journalists face daily in Afghanistan, reaching potentially millions of people across the world at a glance,” said Mujeeb Khalvatgar, director of Nai. “Prior to this, our detailed records of threats against journalists were published in reports and through radio, but could not reach so many people so quickly, or convey the message so simply and succinctly.”
Moving the cursor over the map gives users the historical trend for a particular area where an attack has occurred. Data can be filtered by year, and viewed by province. The site also provides easily accessible information on the number of attacks, the media organization, gender of those targeted, and a safety index.
“With this ability to better analyze the situation, we hope that the site also enables collaborations and networking to occur between Afghanistan's civil-society organizations, and helps create links between the media sector and broader civil society,” said Eric Gunderson, president of Development Seed, who worked with Nai and Internews in Kabul on the mapping project. Nai hopes to launch parallel platforms in Dari and Pashtun in the future.
“One of the greatest success stories of Afghanistan is the emergence of its vibrant media from the days when the country was in an information blackout just a decade ago,” said Internews Chief of Party Jan MacArthur. “The dedication of journalists to cover Afghanistan’s important stories is humbling in light of the dangers that this new mapping tool clearly shows they face every day.”
To extend the life of the data, any news outlet, blog, or organization can embed maps from the project, along with interactive features, into any website. A small blue scissor icon on each map provides the necessary code, and is found in the upper left-hand corner of http://data.nai.org.af/. The original source data is also available to anyone from the website, and the site and mapping functionality were built with open source tools. Internews and Development Seed are also working with Afghan media innovation partners such as AIMS, Gandeeray, Pajhwok, and Tik-Tak to develop the skills of their web and information technology leaders in using these new media tools.