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Title: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future: Modeling Social Unrest in Karachi, Pakistan

Social unrest represents a major challenge for policy makers around the globe, as it can quickly escalate from small scale disturbances to highly public protests, riots and even civil war. This research was motivated by a need to understand social instability and to unpack the comments made during a spring 2013 conference hosted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Center for Global Security and the U.S. Institute for Peace, where policymakers noted that models considering social instability are often not suitable for decision-making. This analysis shows that existing state level models of instability could be improved in spatial scale to the city level, even without significantly improved data access. Better data would make this analysis more complete and likely improve the quality of the model. Another challenge with incorporating modeling into decision-making is the need to understand uncertainty in a model. Policy makers are frequently tasked with making decisions without a clear outcome, so characterization of uncertainty is critical. This report describes the work and findings of the project. It took place in three phases: a literature review of social stability research, a “hindsight scan” that looked at historical data, and a “foresight scan” looking at future scenarios.
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DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
conflict; protest; riot; megacities; elastic future; protracted social conflict; forecast