The power of data visualization
Global illicit networks — from drug smuggling and arms dealing to human trafficking and organ harvesting — affect millions of people across the world, generating over $2.1 trillion every year. Existing, publicly available information about illicit networks is often not presented in a format that allows the patterns of trade to be easily understood. Applying the power of data visualization to this information can enable a greater understanding of the underlying mechanics of these networks, which in turn can lead to much more targeted and effective efforts to counter them.
As part of the Google Ideas INFO Summit we worked with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Igarapé Institute to explore how data visualization could map an existing set of arms trade data. Many arms and ammunition supplies are originally created for legitimate purposes, but through global trade networks end up in illicit trade. A better understanding of the legal flow of arms and ammunition around the world would hopefully inform how the licit and illicit sides of the arms trade are connected. For further background on the global small arms and ammunition trade, watch the panel on ‘Disrupting Illicit Arms’ at the INFO summit.