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Free Tools for Tracking and Lead Generation

RSS monitor for leads!I've talked to novice and advanced computer users alike that aren't quite aware of the power of free and basic tools for media monitoring. In another post I went over some advanced tools for mapping conflict and cooperation using the GDELT database. Here I'll go over some quick ways to step up your tracking game.

We can operate under the basic assumption that the material you're trying to track is available online. While many publications have transitioned to load content on the web, many circulars (local, for example) are still print only. Also, some publications have different print editions that feature unique content not available online.

The next assumption I'll make is that you're comfortable with Google searching. For many people, Google searches may be the only thing they are comfortable with. But, in order to really dig into some of the advanced features that many of the apps have, a cursory understanding of advanced search is helpful. Those of you who have used databases like Lexis Nexis or EBSCO should have no problem.

Aside from these minor requisites, anyone can start monitoring international or local media to track information like mentions, keywords, and breaking news as well as to generate leads. Depending on your budget and needs, however, you'll want to try out different tools.

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Zaatari Light Project Launch

Zaatari Camp

Today Max Holland, Ben Decker, and I launched the fundraising round for the Zaatari Light Project. The goal of the project is to shed light on gender-based violence (GBV) in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp is home to around 100,000 refugees that fled Syria in the wake of the devastating crisis there. Located near the northern border of Jordan, Zaatari has become its own conflict zone and faces tumult daily. 

The water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities attract GBV as they are poorly lit. In District 8, where our project is focused currently large gaps in the lighting of WASH blocks. By large gaps, we mean complete darkness. From the WASH Sector Knowledge, Attitude and Practices Survey in Za'atari Refugee Camp report, November 2013:

"Safety in using the WASH facilities is not a large concern during the day, at night about half of respondents indicate that they are afraid to use the WASH facilities. The biggest concerns for WASH facility safety is for children ages 2-10 (64% day, 72% night) and girls ages 11-18(26% day, 15% night."

Our goal is to raise $12,000 to send an in-kind gift of 10 outdoor, solar powered, LED lights for the WASH blocks and 130 internal LED lights for community tents. Your contributions are appreciated. For more information, pictures, and videos, please visit our page

Media Monitoring to Map Conflict

GDELT-reportDuring research for my masters program I came across a new data set, the Global Data for Events, Location, and Tone, or GDELT. GDELT monitors major news sources for events and codifies them based on conflict and cooperation. The statistics are extremely versatile and include information that is updated daily, starting with events in 1979.

In order to fully plug in to the data you'll have to be familiar with statistical software. However, the team releases the GDELT Daily Global Trend Report-Material Conflict which includes in-depth statistics from the previous 48 hours and more general information over 30 days. Released concurrently with the material conflict report is the GDELT World Leaders Index which tracks mentions and emotion surrounding heads of state.

A great example of the report is from late February, 2014. The attached article shows at the top the change in material conflict over 48 hours, and at the top of the list during these says in Ukraine. The 30-day statistics show near zero mentions of the Ukraine until violence grows throughout the month and makes an asymptotic jump on February 17 as violence erupted on a large scale.

GDELT data includes a variety of useful pieces of information about the recorded event using the existing CAMEO coding scheme and different measures of conflict and coordination, as well as recording the event that occurred and its location. Combining extracted data with other tools such as CartoDB, as noted on their blog, allows for intricate and visually stimulating depictions of the data.

The CAMEO code structure and the nature of the GDELT monitoring algorithms also generate data that is extremely useful for analyzing transnational conflict. Unlike other data sets which only incorporate measures of interstate conflict and war, or civil conflict, GDELT accounts for known groups such as ethnic communities and political organizations providing a much richer look into conflicts beyond states and civil war.

I've begun using GDELT for a variety of different research projects in my program and it has been an exciting challenge. I'm able to access, with the help of some handy programs in Python, using Anaconda, extremely interesting data that is useful, interesting, and insightful.

Hello, world!

I'm launching my new website and a new blog with it. I plan to cover hyperlocal and transnational issues including international development and business, high tech, digital media, and politics. I'll also share resources and highlight some of my clients' work, some of the most interesting and exciting people in their respective fields.

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