The Best Data Visualizations from CSIS

CSIS is one of the world’s preeminent international policy institutions focused on defense and security, regional study, and transnational challenges ranging from energy and trade to global development and economic integration. The Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab enhances CSIS’s research through the latest in cutting-edge web technologies, design, and video. iDeas Lab visualizations bring our data to life. Take a look at some of our best data visualizations, and learn more about the iDeas Lab here.

The Missile Threat from Russia — NATO A2AD Environment

Among the concerns of the NATO alliance in the post-Crimea era is the increase in Russia’s anti-access area denial (A2AD) capabilities. A2AD forces are classified as those that contribute to denying an adversary’s forces access to a particular region or otherwise hinder freedom of maneuver. A2AD forces typically include air defenses, counter-maritime forces, and theater offensive strike weapons, such as short- or medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and other precision guided munitions.

Russia has invested considerable energy into developing A2AD capabilities and carefully positioning them to maximize their strategic effect. Russia’s A2AD deployments span as far north as the Arctic down to Syria, with particular concentrations in Kaliningrad and around Crimea — a sort of “thicket of overlapping and redundant A2/AD systems.”1 In the event of a crisis, such deployments would complicate NATO’s ability to access key areas such as the Baltics or Poland. These relative weaknesses within NATO could increase the attractiveness to Russia of a fait-accompli.

This interactive map provides a broad but necessarily not exhaustive view of the A2AD situation in Europe. Both Russia and NATO deploy shorter-range, highly mobile systems whose locations are not accurately reflected on a static map. Because the exo-atmospheric SM-3 interceptors would have little or no utility against air and missile threats from Russia, the covered areas for NATO’s Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense sites and other Aegis ships are not depicted.


The China Power Project

ChinaPower provides an in-depth understanding of the evolving nature of Chinese power relative to other countries. The project examines five interrelated categories of Chinese power: military, economics, technology, social, and international image. Through objective analysis and data visualization, ChinaPower unpacks the complexity of China’s rise. One such aspect of China’s rise to power that CSIS has explored is the Belt and Road initiative. Announced in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road or OBOR) aims to strengthen China’s connectivity with the world. It combines new and old projects, covers an expansive geographic scope, and includes efforts to strengthen hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, and cultural ties. At present, the plan extends to 65 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product of $23 trillion and includes some 4.4 billion people.

This interactive map traces China’s infrastructure projects. It covers all Eurasian states and other key countries that attended the Belt and Road Forum.


Turning Point: A New Comprehensive Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism

The CSIS Commission on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) formed to develop a comprehensive and actionable blueprint on how to effectively combat the growing appeal of violent extremism within the United States and abroad. Specifically, the Commission considered what the next U.S. administration must do, in close collaboration with governmental and nongovernmental partners, to diminish the appeal of extremist ideologies and narratives.

This interactive map visualizes the global threat of violent extremism. Using open-source data compiled by the University of Maryland’s Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Global Terrorism Database, the iLab produced the first, non-classified and publicly available interactive map of terrorism incidents.


Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

The maritime environment in East Asia contains both promise and peril. The Indo-Pacific region is host to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes, facilitates huge volumes of regional trade, and boasts abundant natural resources. Competing territorial claims, incidents between neighboring countries, and increasing militarization, however, raise the possibility that an isolated event at sea could become a geopolitical catastrophe. This is all occurring against a backdrop of relative opaqueness. Geography makes it difficult to monitor events as they occur, and there is no public, reliable authority for information on maritime developments.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative seeks to change this. AMTI was conceived of and designed by CSIS. It is an interactive, regularly-updated source for information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia. AMTI aims to promote transparency in the Indo-Pacific to dissuade assertive behavior and conflict and generate opportunities for cooperation and confidence building.


Reconnecting Asia

Reconnecting Asia maps new linkages — roads, railways, and other infrastructure — that are reshaping economic and geopolitical realities across the continent. Through data curation and objective analysis, the project aims to fill Asia’s infrastructure-information gap, squaring lofty ambitions with facts on the ground. Our methodology explains the science and art behind these efforts.

This project has much in common with those it tracks. It is ambitious, covering a region that contains over a third of the world’s landmass and more than half of global GDP. It is a public good, created as part of CSIS’s mission to help citizens and decision-makers chart a course toward a better world.

This interactive map tracks intermodal, rail, road, and seaport infrastructure projects in Asia, providing details on their funding and purpose.


See more work from the iDeas Lab here.

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