Using Big Data Analytics to Better Understand Korean Unification

Beyond Parallel, powered by the analytics of Predata, is seeking to bring open source intelligence tools to issues related to Korean unification. The signals are drawn from publicly available sources on expertly curated topics to capture the volume and vigor of the online conversation around these issues. The signals are then paired with Beyond Parallel databases of historical events to analyze current trends and make predictions about future events.

Notable Events and Signal Interactions

The signals above capture the volume and engagement in conversations related to North Korean weapons programs (North Korea WMD) and inter-Korean relations. When signal spikes occur following major events, they enable Beyond Parallel to better understand the impact of these events on Korean relations, and when spikes occur independently they have often proven strong indicators that a major event is about to take place.

North Korea Fires Short-Range Missiles | June 8, 2017
North Korea fired four surface-to-ship missiles from a location near Wonsan on June 8 Korea standard time (KST). According to the South Korean military the missiles flew about 200 km (125 miles) before landing in the East Sea. Predata’s North Korea WMD signal showed a spike on June 6, about two days prior to the missile launch event.

North Korea Tests Short-Range Ballistic Missile | May 29, 2017
North Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile from a location near Wonsan on the east coast. According to the South Korean military the missile flew about 450 km. North Korean state media described the projectile launched as an “ultra-precision” Scud missile.

North Korea Tests Medium-Range Ballistic Missile | May 21, 2017
North Korea launched a Pukguksong-2 missile from a location near Lake Yonpung in South Pyongan province. According to South Korean sources the missile traveled approximately 500 km (310 miles) and was similar to the PGS-2 launch in February 2017.

Big Data in International Relations

Big data refers to any collection of large amounts of information that can come from nearly any source. In addition to traditional sources of data, the internet offers a plethora of potential sources for big data sets including web page edits, social media posts, and online news stories. These data sets are large and complex, requiring specialized data processing software to arrange the data and extract useful information. With the right tools, we can use big data analytics to search for patterns and correlations to learn more about the world or make predictions about the future. These analytics can be applied to a broad array of topics ranging from sports, politics, popular culture, to intelligence in international relations.

In the field of international relations, signals intelligence derived from electronic sources, including the internet, have been a tool used by the intelligence community to bring more intelligence information to policy makers as they make decisions about global affairs. But not all that information and intelligence has to be from top secret sources to be incredibly valuable. Open source intelligence signals are in fact a rich source of information that can provide important insights and context to current events and ongoing trends.

Combining this new big data tool with established tools such as expert analysis, satellite imagery, and historical lessons should bring new information to policymakers, academics and the expert community as we seek to build greater understanding of topics and events surrounding Korean unification.

Additional Reading