Independent Syrian Center for Protests Statistics

26 February 2014

The Independent Syrian Center for Protests Statistics (ISCPS) is a civil society project that began with the outbreak of the uprising with the aim of documenting, through hard numbers, the protest movement in Syria.

The center was officially established on January 20, 2012 by a group of men and women who had no prior academic or practical experience with such work. Nevertheless, since Syrians at the time were in dire need of independent centers of statistics, to help them get hold of reliable information, the group was gradually able to improve its work to become more efficient and reliable.

Since its beginning, the center garnered significant attention and faced a great demand for reliable data. This growth convinced the center members of the need to actively preserve their independence, and thus their credibility. A decision was made to “keep ourselves independent from any political currents or coalitions in formation at that moment in the revolution,” explains one of the members. “Despite our different backgrounds and political outlooks, we were able to preserve our internal cohesion and independence, and that was one of our main achievements,” he adds.

One of the main innovations of the center was the use of Google Maps along with interactive data layers that show demonstrations in real-time. This allowed the center to crowdsource  and manage information on protests, without sacrificing its reliability. In this model, the citizen and the activist become active participants in the documentation of their protest, and thus the center’s community grows exponentially to include many of the youth activists in the local coordination committees around the country. These individuals perpetuated the work of the center and helped their efforts by sharing photos and videos of the demonstrations, as well as providing a needed critique of their work.

The center's many statistics on protests in Syrian cities. Source: ISCPS's Facebook page.
The center's many statistics on protests in Syrian cities. Source: ISCPS's Facebook page.

In its first month, the center took a painful hit with the arrest of its founder for a year. According to one member, “at first we did feel a bit lost without him, but we got over it soon after, and continued our work based on the vision we had developed together.” In that period the center increased its outreach efforts, through new designs, a new Facebook page and releasing their data in English. New visualization methods were introduced as well including charts, mapping and progressive visualization techniques that allowed the center to study the progress of the protest movement. The latter, according to one member, “helped us get to understand in depth the various localities around the country and introduced us to many new towns and villages we had never heard of before.”

The work of the center witnessed a serious decrease along with the drop off in protest numbers. Still, despite the violence and militarization of the uprising, the ISCPS continues to document the scarce peaceful demonstrations that are taking place in some cities and villages demanding the fall of the regime.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad