Gao, Mali: Photography by C4ADS

Current Projects

Enviromental Crimes Fusion Cell

The global trade in illicit environmental products has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Traffickers have demonstrated  detailed understandings of the legal systems they abuse, moving millions of dollars of contraband through international systems of finance and transportation. Organizations seeking to combat this trade are under resourced and struggling to effectively communicate across jurisdictions, sectors, and interests. C4ADS' Environmental Crimes Fusion Cell was built to bridge this gap. Click here to read more about the Environmental Crimes Fusion Cell.


Organized Crime and Grand Corruption Cell

The newest generation of illicit actors are inter-connected, globalized, and technologically savvy. Nuclear proliferators maintain complex webs of proxies and shell companies, while pariah states use similar networks to arm and equip their surrogates around the world. Meanwhile, international terrorist organizations and other perpetrators of mass atrocities operate multi-billion dollar commercial empires with global reach, funneling proceeds through Western jurisdictions.

C4ADS uses open data from global business directories, tax registries, property listings, court documents, intellectual property records, and trade gazettes from over 120 jurisdictions around the world. We structure and analyze this data to map and expose illicit networks around the world. Current focus areas include investigating Human Trafficking, DPRK Overseas Procurement Networks, and Latin American Corruption


Conflict Finance and Irregular Threats Cell

C4ADS is an implementing partner for The Sentry, an initiative of the Enough Project and Not On Our Watch (NOOW). A collaborative effort between financial investigators, regional analysts, and policy advocates, The Sentry seeks to dismantle networks of perpetrators, facilitators, and enablers who fund and profit from Africa’s deadliest conflicts. 

In order to track and analyze how conflict is financed, sustained, and monetized, The Sentry uses C4ADS' open source data collection, field research, and state-of-the-art network analysis, in partnership with local and international organizations, journalists, and governments.

The Sentry’s investigations produce analytical reporting that engages civil society and media, supports regulatory action and prosecutions, and provides policymakers with the information they require to take effective action. Click here to read more about The Sentry.


Internal Research and Innovation

C4ADS analysts are encouraged to develop new and innovative project concepts and analytical methodologies to tackle complex challenges. We seek to experiment with a range of analytical programs including various forms of GIS, social media, and statistical tools. 

In one such example of this work, we built a geospatial model to Predictively Map Sahel Terrorist Basing. Our analysis was based by using fieldwork and local interviews to understand the logistics of AQIM and other violent extremist groups. We then used that understanding to identify key indicators that restrict or guide terrorist movement in the Sahelian desert, including but not limited to access to water, distance from population centers, availability of roads, terrain ruggedness, and known operating areas for French and MINUSMA forces. By then using GIS to layer these different constraints, we created a pilot model, represented in the map above, that narrowed 1.2 million miles of desert by over 90 percent with a high degree of accuracy. 

Key applications for this model could include preemptively identifying at-risk local communities to prioritize for security and development.