Modeling Networks of Networks

Geoffrey Gordon Ashbrook
Wooden Information
Published in
2 min readMay 7, 2020


In the past year I had the opportunity to work with a cross functional team of coders and fellow data scientists on a project for C4ADS: The Center for Advanced Defense Studies. Due to privacy allowances and NDA requirements I will be somewhat vague about the project, but here is a broad strokes outline, approved for release.

The Need & The Problem

Among the important social issues to which C4ADS devotes resources and attention (such as environmental crimes, ivory smuggling, weapons proliferation, and organized crime) is the topic of Trade Sanctions.

While there are a few bodies around the world that may place some ‘entity’ under trade sanctions, and while the penalties for unwittingly or otherwise doing business with a sanctioned entity can be steep indeed (e.g. a 1.1 billion dollar fine for a bank), still there remains no single website where a person or organization can go to research what (or who) all these sanctioned entities are, who sanctioned them, under what sanction, how close one might be to them, and what the history and revisions to these sanctions are.

It is a remedy to this end that C4ADS sees as realizable.

The Vision

C4ADS foresees a one-stop-solution for individual, organizational, journalistic, or academic needs for researching sanctions.

1. Sources:

The site should include sanctions from all international sources.

2. History, Time and Space Analytics:

The site should show visually when and where these sanctions apply, and allow a user friendly search.

3. Networks:

The site should model who is connected with whom in the vast looping network of sanctioned entities, including those reported to be involved but who are not directly under sanctions themselves.

4. World Data:

And, as possible, the site should allow researchers to investigate what else is happening around the world related to these sanctions, leading up to, during, or after their removal.

As this project evolves the goals and results will evolve as well; and hopefully sooner than later the envisioned tools will be available that we may all avail ourselves of that resolution of ironic obscurities.