Searchlight: Visualization and Analysis of Trend Data Project



Principal Investigators:  Prof. Adil Najam and Prof. Suchi Gopal


Can we use contextual regional and national trends to identify and highlight emerging global trends?

Can an appreciation of today’s great challenges help us identify actions for a better tomorrow?

These are the questions at the heart of the Pardee Center’s work on the Visualization and Analysis of Trend Data project sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. The outcomes of this effort are presented in Connecting the Dots: Information and Visualization and Text Analysis of the Searchlight Project Newsletters, a Pardee Center Research Report, published in February 2012.

Using data from organizations in the Rockefeller Foundation’s Searchlight network that observe and monitor regional trends on a number of societal issues in Africa, Asia and the Americas, the Pardee Center team developed sophisticated methods to systematically categorize, analyze, visualize, and draw conclusions from these regional trends.

The goal of the project was to identify and visually represent key ideas and themes emerging from regional trend analyses in a way that is relevant and useful to policymakers and scholars as well as other trend analysis programs. Based on the results of the regional trend analysis, the team also identified global trends of significance to the future, including:

*Differing perceptions of the issues created by climate change between industrialized and developing countries, and how the issues are described, discussed, and ultimately addressed.

*Specific trends in the large urban areas of South Asia versus southern Africa as they deal with rapidly increasing populations and related social and economic ramifications.

*An overall trend of “social resiliency” in the developing world, and the specific factors supporting this trend.

The report describes the methodology the Pardee team used to review the newsletters, including author sentiment tracking, and translate qualitative information into quantitative data that could then be presented visually using methods such as treemaps, histograms, and dashboards.

This project is one component of a larger effort by the Rockefeller Foundation to create and widely disseminate ground-level information concerning the various driving forces that are key to shaping the future, especially in the developing world.

News Related to this Project:

– Pardee Center Research Report Connecting the Dots: Information and Visualization and Text Analysis of the Searchlight Project Newsletters
Pardee Center Received Rockefeller Grant for Foresight Research
Pardee Center Research Presented at Rockefeller Meeting in Bangkok