How To Use the Myanmar TimeMap

The ‘Myanmar TimeMap’ is an interactive map of Myanmar which contains information on verified and alleged human rights abuses in Myanmar. 

If you are a human rights defender, journalist or researcher you can use the Myanmar Timemap to gain a rapid overview, and deep insights into the human rights landscape within Myanmar.

For example, the Timemap can be used to:

  1. Search for particular incidents

  2. Visualise the array of human rights incidents reported in the country

  3. Identify trends and patterns in reported events 

  4. Explore the patterns of verified events over geographical space and time

  5. Access data on each incident

  6. Submit a further information request to Myanmar Witness

 

This information could form the basis of an investigation, report or article, or it could be used to support existing research.

 

In this brief article, Myanmar Witness will outline the various functions of the ‘Myanmar Timemap’. This is followed by a demonstration of how the Timemap can be used to explore verified data on human rights incidents in Myanmar, through a use case example which asks the following question:

 

Are there any incidents involving gunfire in the Mandalay region (မန္တလေး)? If so, where and when did they happen? 

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The Map

 

When the Myanmar Timemap is opened, an interactive map of Myanmar will appear. The map has red dots which represent individual data entries in Myanmar Witness’ database that relate to, or indicate, an interference with human rights. Each point represents a location where videos or photos have either been collected from social media or submitted to Myanmar Witness through the secure submissions form.

The map can be explored by dragging the mouse to navigate around the area on display and the mouse wheel can be used to zoom in and out. By zooming in and out the scale of the map changes, which impacts the display of the data points. For example, when zoomed out, the data points that are close to each other geographically may be combined into a cluster showing a big circle which represents multiple data points. Clicking the cluster will automatically alter the display by moving the cluster central to the displayed area.

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Bottom Panel

 

The panel at the bottom of the Myanmar Timemap display is an interactive timeline. Using the timeline you can change the date range, allowing only incidents within specific timeframes to be shown on the Timemap. This is useful for narrowing down the search time period during an investigation.

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Information Card

 

Each incident has a corresponding information card containing details on the incident, including the date, location, reference number, data type and a summary of the event. The information card also has additional features which are listed below

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Coordinate Randomisation

Myanmar Witness identifies and verifies the coordinates of the human rights incidents as precisely as possible. However, to maintain the safety of those who record and upload footage, the precise coordinates are kept private by ‘randomising’ the locations within a radius of 5km.

Using the Timemap

Interaction between ‘Event Type’ and ‘Filters’

The interaction behaviour between ‘Event Type’ and ‘Filters’ is best explained by an example:

 

1. Selecting Gunfire/Fighting for the ‘Event Type’ and selecting Mandalay for the ‘State’ filter will show only the data points that belong to both Mandalay AND Gunfire/Fighting.

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2. However, if multiple filters are selected, rather than only showing incidents which fall in the intersection between all the chosen filters, the Timemap will display incidents that belong to any of the selected filters. 

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 The results are shown in a colour-coded pie chart.  For example, if Mandalay is selected for the ‘State’ filter and Video(s) for the ‘Media Type’ filter, the Timemap will show data points that belong to either Mandalay OR Video(s).

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Example Use Case​

To demonstrate how the Timemap can be used to investigate and explore data on human rights incidents in Myanmar, the rest of this ‘how to guide’ will provide a use case example answering the following question:

Are there any incidents involving gunfire in the Mandalay region (မန္တလေး)? If so, where and when did they happen?

To start off, remove all the information that is unrelated to the search using the filtering tools. For example, deselect all event types that are not ‘gunfire’ and filter out the unrelated regions. 

Selecting data points for Mandalay

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  1. Open “Filters” from the left panel

  2. Under “State”, select “Mandalay” to show only the data points in Mandalay

Selecting data points involving gunfire

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  1. Open “Event Types” from the left panel

  2. Deselect/select the options until only “Gunfire/Fight” is selected. 

The data points are concentrated in two areas of Mandalay  (မန္တလေး). To understand the incidents better, the user can take a look at what else is happening around these two locations, around the same time by exploring the other ‘Event Type’ filters. By doing so, trends may be revealed. For example, in this case, exploring additional ‘Event Types’ revealed one other Event Type of interest… “Police/Military Presence”. 

Selecting additional data points for police or military presence

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  1. Open “Event Type” on the left panel

  2. Select “Police/Military Presence” to add data points to the map

 

Data Exploration and Attribution

 

Once the information has been filtered, the data can be explored and trends may be revealed. In this case, by comparing data points across geographical areas and time, we can reasonably assume that a police/military presence is somehow related to the gunfire in the Mandalay (မန္တလေး) region.  

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In this example, once the data has been filtered, it is possible to see that the data points for gunfire and military presence often appear to correlate on both the map and the timeline. This means that gunfire related incidents often occur at the same time and place as there is a Police/military presence.

Considering that the military has the means and motivation to perform these acts in addition to the occurence of the two types of events within similar geographical locations and timeframes, we could hypothesise that the gunfire incidents were related to, or even perpetrated by, the military. This information could then be used to support existing investigations into these events, or prompt further investigation to discover whether attribution can be determined. 

To explore the Myanmar Timemap for yourself, click here (laptop/desktop only).