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Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 8180272, 13 pages
Research Article

Predicting Social Unrest Events with Hidden Markov Models Using GDELT

College of Information Systems and Management, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha, Hunan 410073, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Fengcai Qiao

Received 16 October 2016; Accepted 3 April 2017; Published 10 May 2017

Academic Editor: Pasquale Candito

Copyright © 2017 Fengcai Qiao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Proactive handling of social unrest events which are common happenings in both democracies and authoritarian regimes requires that the risk of upcoming social unrest event is continuously assessed. Most existing approaches comparatively pay little attention to considering the event development stages. In this paper, we use autocoded events dataset GDELT (Global Data on Events, Location, and Tone) to build a Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) based framework to predict indicators associated with country instability. The framework utilizes the temporal burst patterns in GDELT event streams to uncover the underlying event development mechanics and formulates the social unrest event prediction as a sequence classification problem based on Bayes decision. Extensive experiments with data from five countries in Southeast Asia demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework, which outperforms the logistic regression method by 7% to 27% and the baseline method 34% to 62% for various countries.