Case Study: Codifying social conflict data

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Bellingcat collects, curates, verifies, analyses and preserves social media content from conflict areas.

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People Session DNI Fund Event

From a bedroom in Leicester, UK, an unemployed man with no background in journalism began a blog covering the Syrian civil war in 2012. He went on to receive international attention by creating an investigative search network considered to be a world–leading expert in news verification.

Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, got the project off the ground working on issues including the disappearance of MH17 and claims over weapons in Ukraine. His current project is focused on the Syrian conflict.

Bellingcat’s platform, The Archive for Conflict Investigation, collects, curates, verifies, analyses and preserves social media content from conflict areas. The search network provides real time information of developments as they arise, while creating an evidence base for use in future investigations. The overall aim of the project is to establish a set of tools, methodologies and processes that can be applied by journalists to any modern conflict.

His small team analyses and archives content to make the data useful, but the volume of work is an issue – not just for him, but for the news companies using his platform. Working with the DNI, Bellingcat is looking to make this data more usable and easily discoverable. Having started Bellingcat using support from crowd funding, Higgins explains the DNI funding “allowed us to push this to the next level”. 



Download the full DNI Innovation Fund report 2016-2017 here to read more about some of our funded projects and key insights from the report.

DNI funding allowed us to push this to the next level.

Eliot Higgins
Founder at Bellingcat