The jihadist galaxy

The jihadist galaxy

Organisation: Le Parisien (France)

Publication Date: 04/15/2016

Size of team/newsroom:large


The “jihadist galaxy” is a data visualisation website created by the French newspaper Le Parisien, released in April 2016. It aims at recapitulating most of the connexions between recent attacks in France and Belgium, former and active terrorist cells and suspected individuals since Mohamed Merah attacks in 2012 ; into a single platform. The website consists in more than 220 pages, including: a home page highlighting key connexions, groups, events; a filterable index of individuals; and groups, events and individual profiles. A data networking system helps the user navigating from a profile to another, to better understand both suspected and confirmed connexions between persons, groups and attacks. The whole network can be shared and embed page per page, especially in Le Parisien articles. The viewer will then have the opportunity to know more about each element in the right context. This project is a key contribution to better understand recent attacks in Europe.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

Regarding the content, the database is updated on a daily basis by journalists following both attacks and investigations. Each element of the database is only based on two datasets: events, groups or individual profiles (1) and connexions between each element (2). Each profile is enriched with key information including pictures, dates, places, status, description etc. Regarding the shape, we started by creating a single data visualization months ago. As the investigation was going further, the shape was insufficient in terms of size and readability. We decided to split the data visualisation into event, groups and individual profiles; which makes it far easier to navigate and better understand. Finally, the embed widget system allows the newsroom providing access to specific profiles, in specific articles, to enhance context based information provision. NB: as the system is not participative, it cannot really be considered as a “social network”, but more as a rich directory ; we only tried to replicate its physical aspect to ensure better information appropriation.

Technologies used for this project:

The technologies used are very simple to ensure autonomous, easy and agile update from the newsroom: The data update is managed through an online and collaborative table system. It allows data exports in Comma-separated Values (CSV), feeding a MySQL database. The front office and the widgets are based on Html5 & CSS3 integration from a social network design. The network data visualisations are based on the open source Springy JQuery plugin. The data is provided through PHP to ensure dynamic data update.
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