Thursday, June 7, 2007

Iraq Index from Brookings Inst.

Here is a sampling of what I think are the most important trend charts from the Brookings Institution's June 4th edition of Michael O'Hanlon's Iraq Index. This weekly report is still covers the widest range of Iraq trend metrics in a single place that I know of. Many of these are displayed in trend charts. Other important metrics appear in tabular form or in text description. Check out the whole report (60+ pages) for all the details.

Chart 1 - Iraqi Military and Police appear to be becoming more involved in recent months based on this chart showing their fatality rate rising.

Chart 2 - Slight downturn overall recently but still high. I would prefer to see these three factors separately so I could discern individual trends. Would also be useful to be able to normalize a given category's rate as a percentage of the total rate of attack. Rich data such as these are good when presented statically, but even better when there is a chance to interact with them (e.g. as we did in yesterday's post showing the Wall Street Journal's interactive chart on housing trends).

This chart shows the recent rapid ramp up in security stations and outposts

Stacked bars can be interesting. In addition, it regularly proves helpful to be able to examine the individual components.

This data looks like it is a very important dis-aggregation that will bring added insight to what's going on. It would be great if the data from previous years could be reconstructed and added to give more perspective.
This important chart covers the full period from the beginning of the war. My own preference would be to drop the labels with the totals for each month. I think these clutter up the chart and would be best to keep in a table for those who are interested. Since the month to month is so variable, a 3 or 4 month moving average might be a useful addition. My own preference would be to plot the non-hostile fatalities separately for greater clarity regarding any trends that might be present in that data. The disparity of scale between the two factors makes interpretation of the smaller values more difficult.

Another important chart which also covers the full time range since the beginning of the war. I believe a moving average would also help present this data more thoroughly.

While his data on the growing prison population is important and seriously under-reported elsewhere, it only appears as a table in this month's report. A chart for this factor would prove even more helpful. In addition, it would be useful to know the trends in other related criminal justice factors such as:
  • number in custody who have been charged and indicted
  • number currently undergoing trial
  • number found guilty, sentenced and serving time
  • number awaiting indictment
  • number awaiting trial
  • average number of months before indictment/trialAnother full time period chart. The pair of factors and the dual y axis work well together in this case. My view is that a moving average would be helpful in this situation as well.

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