Led by Penn State political scientist Philip Schrodt, a team of researchers developed the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone to scrape news from the Internet—the BBC, yes, but also hyperlocal sources around the world—and catalog events from village elections to genocide. Then data scientists can mine it to produce forecasts, based on short- and long-term trends, that could potentially be used by aid agencies to prepare for crises.

The map below, based on data analysis by Schrodt’s colleagues Jay Yonamine and John Beieler, forecasts conflict levels in Afghanistan for June 2014.