Terrorist and Organized Criminal Search Data Base (TOC-s) is still under construction
The TOC-search (Terrorist and Organized Criminal Search Data Base) is a dynamic data base which offers comprehensive information on global terrorist network and help researchers, analysts, students and others working to prevent terrorism. It is result of a common project realized by the Faculty of Security Studies (www.fb.bg.ac.rs) and Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade (http://www.matf.bg.ac.rs/) which had started in December 2007.
The TOC-s data base is designed as online search engine that provides in-depth search and analysis on various terrorist-related categories: terrorist incidents, groups, organizations, members, leaders and supporting individuals and organizations. It also provides extensive information on links and relations between the mentioned terrorist-related categories and enables the corresponding search and predictions as well. The scope of the TOC-s is to integrate data from variety of sources, including foreign and domestic news, professional security journals, reports and databases, academic works. One of the key advantages of the TOC-s is fact that its basic data source is verified information provided by PTSS reports of the George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The TOC-s database will have both educational and applicative function, as an additional powerful measure for protecting state borders.
The starting point in the TOC-search project was the data presented on the map Al-Qaeda Network: Principals, Supporters, Selected Cells and Significant Activities (1992-2004). The map was prepared by J. L. Boesen, Raytheon Genesis Facility Institute Reston (2004), using the data derived from open sources. The data presented in the map were classified and stored in order to create backbone of the base.
The information in the TOC-s database has been constantly updated from publicly available, open-source materials. These include electronic news archives, existing data sets, secondary source materials such as books and journals, and legal documents.
The data in the base are classified in four entities: terrorists, groups, organizations and actions. The links and relations between the individuals, groups, organizations and cooperatives (NGOs, banks, companies, mosques, Islamic centers, etc) are stored and classified in the data base. The simple and advanced search features are implemented in the TOC-s. The simple search enables the researcher to explore the chosen entity by given keyword or part of an entity name. The advances search feature is implemented for each entity. It is performed by using different properties: alias, belongs to organization, belongs to group, leader, religion, in relation with, type or actors of the attack, etc. All search results are presented together with the basic information on the found subjects, enabling in-depth search to be performed as well.
An important feature of the TOC-s is that a researcher can obtain all existing links from a particular item (terrorist, group, organization, cooperative), together with corresponding characteristics of a link as well. The results of both simple and advance search include information whether there is a link (active or inactive) from a particular individual, group or organization. In-depth search feature gives more information on the found link.
At each moment of using TOC-s, one can immediately start a new search or switch to advanced search tool. While exploring the data base, a researcher usually performs multiple search. In order to help the user of the TOC-s, we have implemented the "note tool". This tool enables the user to put all the important results obtained from different searches on the right side of the screen. In this way, all the data that are essential in the research are visible during the further TOC-s exploration. In the next phase of the TOC-search project we plan to implement the image search feature as well. This tool will enable to search the image data base for related photographs of individuals or terrorist attacks by using keywords (individual's name, group/organization name, or the part of the name, specific terrorist incident, date, etc.)
The TOC-s database is constantly updated with the PTSS reports obtained from George C. Marshal European Center for Security Studies (http://www.marshallcenter.org/) The incoming reports are sorted and stored by date in PTSS section (Program on Terrorism and Security Studies). In this way, we will provide constant and automatic refreshment of the base with up-to-date information. A team of undergraduate students from the Faculty for Security Studies is intensively working on the data collection and classification. The students' TOC-s team is studying the archive of PTSS reports, extracting and sorting data to be stored in the TOC-s, but other sources of terrorist-related information are used as well. The collected data are constantly being verified by comparisons with other sources and related records and by internal checking of the data as well.
It is also important to provide the protection of confident data stored in the base. In this scope, two levels of data access are implemented in the TOC-s. The first level is named "blue key" and it is available for students and researches in academic institutions and research centers. The "blue key" enables the access to all open-source data stored in the base. The second level of data access, named "red key" is reserved for legal authorities, state institutions and state government. The "red key" opens the part of the TOC-s with confident data which are valuable for all legal institutions that are dealing with counterterrorism. The owner of the "red key" also has all rights and access to the open source data, as the "blue key" owner.
Several analytical features are to be incorporated within the TOC-s database. Analytical tools will provide statistical analysis of information of terrorist attacks, groups, members. The study will examine the predictability of international terrorism in terms of the existence of trends, seasonality, and periodicity of terrorist events. Our team is intensively working on application of statistical models for a time-series analysis of the occurrence of terrorist events as well as their victimization rates. The fit of this model will be tested both by statistical diagnostics and the accuracy of predictions based on this model compared to actual occurrence. In this way, the researcher will be able to analyze terrorism trends over time and to compare different aspects of terrorism between countries, regions and terrorist groups (for example: type of terrorist attacks, level of organization, tactic, communication level, size of a terrorist group, age or race of its members, and many others). The results of statistical analysis will be presented graphically in various charts, showing the dependencies and/or the comparisons of the chosen aspects. The chart type can also be chosen by the user.
The first phase of the TOC-s development has been finished, but it is not publicly available yet. Although the TOC-s is still under construction, it has already been used in the purpose of Security of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. As soon as it becomes publicly available, we'll provide more information for potential users of the TOC-s.