Using GDELT Summary To Track The Jerusalem Response

Two weeks ago when US President Trump declared that the US would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, GDELT Summary became a powerful to track the emerging global response in realtime. While the English language press as a whole tended to depict a mass uprising in the making with mass violence breaking out across "Jerusalem" and breathless prognostications of a new Intifada in hours (though some outlets were obviously better in their reporting), GDELT's mass machine translation meant GDELT Summary was able to instantly sift through the Hebrew and regional Arabic press to provide realtime local reporting and perspectives on what precisely was happening on the ground. Coupled with Google Translate's native Chrome browser integration, one could search in English and instantly review domestic and regional coverage translated on-the-fly into English. While machine translation is far from perfect, it has reached a point today where it is good enough to allow holistic realtime triage of global coverage of the emerging response to Jerusalem, including protests breaking out across the world and to map and understand what was happening where, how it was spreading and how it might progress over the coming days.

GDELT's translation capabilities were particularly useful in tracking realtime ground reporting, including what streets and neighborhoods were honoring the general strike, where protests were occurring, how many people were involved, how the security services were responding, as well as realtime updates on official and unofficial statements by leaders on both sides, many of which had considerable delays before translated excerpts became available in the English press and which excluded key details necessary for a more robust assessment of where things were likely to head.

In advising a colleague in the area at the time, GDELT Summary made it possible to both determine that physical unrest at the time was highly localized and not metastasizing to other areas and that based on the current information environment it was unlikely that calls for a new Intifada would be realized in the immediate term, and certainly not before that particular colleague had departed the country several days later. In short, if you were reading only English language reporting, you would be forgiven for thinking the whole region was on fire and suicide bombers would be taking the streets momentarily. Only through the eyes of the local and regional presses could you truly understand the complex dynamics and groundtruth of what was actually occurring moment by moment, demonstrating the absolute criticality of focusing on local content in local languages when trying to understand a globalized world.