Violence and Cell Phone Communication: Behavior and Prediction in Cote D’Ivoire

43 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2014

See all articles by Daniel Berger

Daniel Berger

University of Essex - Department of Government

Shankar Kalyanaraman

New York University (NYU)

Sera Linardi

University of Pittsburgh

Date Written: November 17, 2014

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between low-level incidents of political violence and communication patterns seven months after the 2012 Ivorian Civil War using network traffic from all of Orange Telecom’s Cote d’Ivoire cell towers and 500,000 randomly sampled cell phone subscribers. We first show that in the days preceding small violent incidents, mobile phone call volumes increase by 10% and the number of cell phones that are active increases by 6%, while the length of average calls decreases by 4%. These unique communication patterns attenuate as the distance from violence increase and strengthen when incidents with no fatalities are excluded. We then use machine learning techniques to explore whether these changes can predict the day and location of violent events. The addition of cell phone data to base models appear to improve our ability to predict violent events at very fine spatial and temporal resolution.

Keywords: prediction, information aggregation, communication, violence, machine learning, conflict prevention, big data, information and communications technology

JEL Classification: C53, D74 D83, D84, N37, C55, Q34

Suggested Citation

Berger, Daniel and Kalyanaraman, Shankar and Linardi, Sera, Violence and Cell Phone Communication: Behavior and Prediction in Cote D’Ivoire (November 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2526336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2526336

Daniel Berger

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Shankar Kalyanaraman

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Sera Linardi (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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