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An online tool called Unrest Tracker lets locals track looting, arson, and other incidents around South Africa in the face of local unrest.
The tool was created by local company PolicyLab, with the dataset produced by Christopher Wood, Devi Pillay, and Brandon Almeida.
According to Wood, Lead Economist at PolicyLab, they created the tracker in response to uncertainty over events unfolding on Monday, 12 July.
“There was such a sprawl of unrest on Monday, and so much fake news and misunderstanding thrown into the mix, that we wanted something that would allow for a more structured understanding of what was happening,” Wood told Memeburn.
“We also wanted to highlight the work that journalists were doing to make these reports in such challenging circumstances, and thought capturing their reports in a single resource was a good way to do so.”
According to Wood, the app aims to help people plan their days and understand what is happening around the country.
But the tool can also be used as part of future research into the crisis.
“In the long-term, we’re hopeful that this is a useful research tool as we begin an essential national conversation about how to address the underlying inequalities that caused all this unrest,” Wood told Memeburn.
“But in the long-term, we’re hopeful that this is a useful research tool as we begin an essential national conversation about how to address the underlying inequalities that caused all this unrest.”
How Unrest Tracker works
The Unrest Tracker map is accessible via web browser. There, users can see a map of incidents around the country. You can also view a bar graph visualising the number of incidents each day.
Users can click on mapped incidents to see the type of incident and where it occurred. Other information includes when it was first reported and the source of the report (with a link).
Wood says that while they can’t guarantee that every single report is accurate, they try to ensure that each report comes from a credible source or has corroborating evidence.
“The vast majority of our reports come from news outlets and their journalists,” Wood notes.
Community members also report incidents to the team. If PolicyLab finds a source that corroborates the report, they label it as a verified community report. It will also include a link to the source.
Other community reports may be corroborated, and listed as a community report, using credible sources. These include industry representatives or local counsellors.
Feature image: Screenshot/PolicyLab