A graphic showing several lines connecting people-shaped icons.

Through the Looking Glass: Harnessing Big Data to Respond to Violent Extremism

| < 1 Minute Read
Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism | Empowering Youth | Data Quality and Management | Stabilization

Michele Piercey, Carolyn Forbes, and Hasan Davulcu discuss how the data revolution can inform Counter Violence Extremism programming, and how this innovation has the potential to change the trajectory of crises.

This post originally appeared on Devex

People think and say all sorts of things that they would never actually do. One of the biggest challenges in countering violent extremism is not only figuring out which people hold radical views, but who is most likely to join and act on behalf of violent extremist organizations. Determining who is likely to become violent is key to designing and evaluating more targeted interventions, but it has proven to be extremely difficult.

There are few recognized tools for assessing perceptions and beliefs, such as whether community sentiment about violent extremist organizations is more or less favorable, or which narratives and counternarratives resonate with vulnerable populations.

Program designers and monitoring and evaluation staff often rely on perception surveying to assess attitudinal changes that CVE programs try to achieve, but there are limitations to this method. Security and logistical challenges to collecting perception data in a conflict-affected community can make it difficult to get a representative sample, while ensuring the safety of enumerators and respondents. And given the sensitivity of the subject matter, respondents may be reluctant to express their actual beliefs to an outsider…Read the full post on Devex. 

Posts on the blog represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Chemonics.

A professional headshot of Michele Piercey.

About Michele Piercey

Michele Piercey is an international development practitioner with 17 years of experience, 11 of which have been in the field. She has managed conflict mitigation projects across the world, as the leader of stabilization and political transition programs in Afghanistan and Tunisia, and most recently, as chief of party for the USAID/OTI-funded Iraq Regional Program. …

About Carolyn Forbes

Carolyn Forbes is the assistant director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University, which advances research and education on the dynamics of religion and conflict in global affairs.

About Hasan Davulcu

Hasan Davulcu is an associate professor of computer science in Arizona State University’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is an expert in developing novel data mining techniques and tools for structuring and organizing unstructured sources.