Mapping Arms Data (MAD)
Mapping Arms Data (MAD)

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Robert Muggah, Nic Marsh

Organisation and country:

Igarapé Institute, Brazil


The MAD visualization was prepared by the Igarapé Institute, PRIO and Google Ideas in 2012 (and re-launched in 2013). It documents millions of military and civilian small arms transfers (exports and imports) around the world since the early 1990s. The width of the line connecting states represents the scale (in dollar value) of the transfer. Its color determines whether it is an import or an export. It is highly intuitive. MAD was originally developed as an experiment for a major Google summit on illicit networks. It was updated with new data in 2013 and launched with the intention of impacting United Nations negotiations on a new arms trade treaty (ATT) as well as stimulating a more sophisticated global debate on the dynamics of international arms and ammunition transfers. The goal was to take a complex topic and render it more accessible for public debate and scrutiny.

The primary audience for MAD is policy makers and media outlets. Since 2012, it ended up being downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 120 countries. It has catalyzed shifts in positions among key countries during negotiations in the General Assembly (since many claimed that such transfers could not be tracked). Moreover, it was featured in Wired magazine, the Atlantic, CNN, BBC online, and hundreds of media outlets, and was widely discussed in social media in over a dozen languages.


Final vote count: 798