Announcing GDELT Geographic News Search!

We are enormously excited today to announce the formal unveiling of GDELT Geographic News Search!  The Geographic News Search service allows you to search the last 1 hour/24 hours of the GDELT 2.0 Global Knowledge Graph (GKG) by person, organization, GDELT Theme, news outlet, or language, instantly returning a live interactive clickable geographic map of matching coverage that can even be embedded in your own website!

The maps, powered by CartoDB's mapping platform and CartoDB.js, visualize the contextual geographic footprint of your search – each dot on the map represents a location mentioned in the news in context with the person/organization/theme you searched for (or mentioned in coverage from a given outlet or written in a given language if you use the advanced search functions).  In other words, this is not a map of news outlets writing about a topic – it is a map of the locations being discussed in context with that topic.  It is NOT a fulltext search service – you can't enter an arbitrary keyword or phrase – only the names of people, organizations, a news outlet domain, one of the 65 languages that GDELT live translates, or one of the thousands of predefined GDELT Themes.  You are also NOT searching "events", you are searching the narrative discourse of the world's news media across 65 languages.  Thus, when searching for the GDELT Theme "PROTEST", the resulting map shows all locations being discussed alongside the concept of protesting or protesters, but this could range from an actual ongoing protest at that location to rumors of the potential for future protests there.  In other words, what you are mapping is the narrative undertones of the media, rather than physical events.  This offers an extraordinarily detailed view into what the world's media is focusing on and how it is being framed.  The maps are updated every hour (not always precisely at the top of the hour, sometimes they may update in the middle of the hour), reflecting a rolling window of the last 1 hour / 24 hours (see below).  At this time the maps only include electronic news coverage, not broadcast or print coverage.

For those familiar with the GDELT Global Knowledge Graph, these maps perform an extra layer of relevance filtering that will be of especial interest to you.  Using the proximity information included in the GKG 2.0 metadata, each mention of a person, organization, or GDELT Theme in a news article is associated with location likely of greatest relevance to it in the article.  This is particularly helpful with lengthy "roundup" articles covering a range of news from across a region, helping the resulting maps to correctly associate each name/theme with its corresponding location.

When first accessing the service, you will see a blank map with a search box at top.  Start typing a name/theme and an autocomplete dropdown will appear that shows all matching search terms found in GDELT over the last 24 hours.  While you can enter a search term not appearing on this list, it is unlikely that it will return any results.  The autocomplete list is particularly useful when searching for a specific GDELT Theme, helping you triage the list of themes GDELT has been finding over the last 24 hours.  Remember that GDELT Themes use underscores between words instead of spaces.  If you pick an entry from the autocomplete list, the map should automatically begin a search – otherwise if you type your query in manually, hit enter afterwards to begin the search.

Each map has three layers, which can be individually turned on/off using the "Visible Layers" dropdown at the top-right of the map.  The "Last Hour" layer displays purple dots at all locations associated with your search over the last 1 hour.  These dots are clickable – mouse over a dot to see a hover infobox with the name of that location – click on a dot to see a popup with a list of relevant coverage mentioning your query with respect to that location.  The "Heatmap Anim" layer displays an animated heatmap emphasizing the areas with the greatest amount of matching coverage, helping you rapidly identify geographic clustering of your topic.  Unlike the clickable purple layer, this layer is NOT clickable – it is designed to illustrate temporal patterns in your topic over the last 24 hours, in 15 minute resolution, to provide background context.  Finally, the "Emotion Anim" layer offers an animated visualization of the emotional undertones of the last 24 hours of coverage, placing a dot at each location mentioned in context with your query during a given 15 minute interval over the last 24 hours and color-coding it by the average emotional "tone" of all mentions of that location in context with your search, from bright red (very negative) to bright green (very positive).  Note that during periods of high news volume the database system powering the map may impose a cap on the number of records it will store, meaning that the actual time period covered by these animations may range from 24 hours down to 12 hours at times.  Also, note that on occasion the heatmap and emotion animations may not be perfectly synced, may not display fully, or may have other issues – usually refreshing your browser window fixes this.  Sometimes you will see the animated and heatmap layers, but no purple dots from the Last Hour layer – this usually indicates a topic that was discussed earlier in the day, but has not been mentioned in the last hour.

You will find an incredible diversity of coverage discovered by GDELT, reflecting its deep cataloging of local media throughout the world and live translation of 65 languages in realtime.  For example, searching for “AVIATION_INCIDENT” brings back a single-engine plane crash in Spring Branch, Texas, a float plane crash in Gander, Canada, a missing Lithuanian aircraft, a collision of a Turkish jetliner with a jetbridge, and a recap of the downing of a Syrian military helicopter by Turkish F-16 jets.   A search for “NATURAL_DISASTER_LANDSLIDE” returns a state of emergency in the North Andean district in Peru, a list of roads presently closed in Bulgaria due to landslides, flooding leading to landslides in Salvador, Brazil that have heavily damaged houses and led to 70 alerts in one day, and even a story of a tree falling onto train tracks leading to the cancelation of a train to the flower show in Udhagamandalam, India, repairs for which were delayed when a landslide subsequently struck the area.  Searching for “REL_ANTISEMITISM” returns discussion of anti-Semitism, such as this report that the Baku reporter for the Jewish News Agency had his apartment’s natural gas supply turned off by Azerigaz, which also alleges broad xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan.  Alternatively, “WHISTLEBLOWER” returns coverage of mass anti-government protests in Macedonia launched by whistleblower-provided recordings, corruption proceedings in Brazil enabled by a whistleblower, and an Indian whistleblower fearing for his life after the Delhi High Court revoked his police protection after he served as a whistleblower exposing a scandal in Madhya Pradesh.  Searching for “CONSTITUTIONAL” returns a wealth of global discussion of constitutional issues, including this South Korean opinion column discussing constitutional issues in Ohio in the United States.  Searching for “EDUCATION” returns information on grade 11 and 12 school examinations in Nepal rescheduled due to the earthquake and general status of its education infrastructure in the aftermath of the disaster.

You can enter multiple search terms to require that they all appear together in a given document.  Do NOT enter quotes around names or phrases.  All terms must be entered in English.  The following search options are available:

  • Person Names.  Enter the English transliteration of any person name to find locations associated with it.  Names are case-insensitive and do not require quotes around them.  Pay close attention to the autocomplete dropdown, as sometimes a given transliteration of a non-English name may be more popular than another.  Try searching for "Vladimir Putin".
  • Organization Names.  Same as Person Names, but covers any major organization (commercial, governmental, and NGO).  Not all organizations may be recognized, especially small ones without available translations into English, though GDELT does its best to try and recognize a large cross-section of global organizations.  Try searching for "United Nations".
  • GDELT Themes.  Enter any GDELT Theme to perform topical searches.  Try searching for "PROTEST".
  • News Outlets.  Enter "domain:" and the domain name of a news outlet to see all locations mentioned in news coverage from that given news outlet.  Thus, "" will return all locations mentioned in BBC's coverage.  For news outlets that use multiple subdomains, you can use "domainlike:" to search across all of its domains – thus "" will also return coverage from "", which "domain:" will not.
  • Languages.  Enter "lang:" and the name or ISO639-2 code of one of the 65 languages live translated by GDELT to see all locations mentioned in news coverage from that language.  Thus, "lang:Chinese" or "lang:zho" will both return locations mentioned in Chinese-language news coverage.

You can combine multiple operators together.  For example, "lang:greek,ECON_TAXATION" will search Greek-language news coverage of taxation issues, while ",PROTEST" will search BBC's coverage of protests.


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