HCSS Datalab

November 5th 2019 - 12:30
HCSS Datalab Monitor

The Datalab is HCSS’ in-house evidence- and knowledge-base that is increasingly becoming the foundation on which we build our geostrategic analyses. Until fairly recently, the fields of foreign, security, and defense policy (FSDP) analysis had few other options but to rely on mostly qualitative expert analysis and opinion. HCSS has, from its very inception in 2007, pushed for complementing this deep - but often partial -  human expertise with more systematic - and multi-perspectivist - machine-based and data-driven analysis.

The HCSS Datalab's StratBase leverages a wide array of over 11,000 variables from various open and proprietary datasets. Many of these datasets are of a numerical origin (e.g. economic, financial, military, values, etc. country-year datasets), but increasingly they are also extracted from text- and even image/video- or audio-based - sources. We process all of these datasets with the latest data-driven algorithms and analytical frameworks to map and track global geodynamics, conflict lifecycles, political and security risks both offline as well as in cyberspace, great-power assertiveness, the behavior of pivot-states, access to natural resources, changing insights about the future, and many other phenomena that are of key importance to international interactions. 

Conflict Risk Assessment Monitor 1



Example of our recent work:

Political violence forecasting and early warning algorithms

Through a combination of machine learning methods and advanced text mining we forecast the odds of political violence globally on a state/province level. 







The geostrategic analyses that we base on our HCSS Datalab are targeted at multiple time-horizons. Our nowcasting-work sets out to provide decision-makers with a more systematic and actionable ability to monitor what is actually going on in the world right now - an ability that unfortunately remain sorely lacking. Our forecasting work uses the latest breakthroughs in machine-learning to extrapolate reliable and interpretable trends out of these richer historical and contemporary data within what we consider to be the current predictability horizon (up to one year ahead). Finally our foresight work tries to map the bandwidth of views on various possible elements of the future (futuribles) as they emerge from a variety of different foresight studies in multiple languages and fields of study. 


Agrifood Monitor


Example of our recent work:

A holistic dashboard for Dutch agrifood interests

In close collaboration with the client we developed a one stop dashboard that can inform decision makers on all relevant components of Dutch agrifood across the globe.









We provide early warning solutions, and improve situational awareness and understanding of the subject matter for a wide range of civil society, industry, and government clients. Apart from accurate predictions, we also provide our clients with high quality interpretations of conflict-related phenomena. Our output enables our clients to mitigate political and security risks to which their policies, investments, or ventures might be exposed. Specifically, we enable our clients to completely appreciate social and demographic conditions of conflict lifecycles, economic mechanisms that drive such lifecycles, and political triggers that initiate them, all of which might jeopardize our clients’ efforts, if left out of consideration.


Galaxy Graph


Example of our recent work:

Regime complex mapping and fragmentation in cyberspace

Developed with the support of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC), this monitor makes use of text mining and network analysis to visualize policy clusters and identify possible synergies and gaps. 










Our core competencies range from text and data mining, to index building, to predictive and causal risk modelling, to optimizing strategies and policies, to designing comprehensive dashboards. We collect, synthesize, and curate our data for quality. We rely on structural and automated event data. In  order to develop tailor-made solutions, and visualize our output in intuitive, customized, web-based interfaces in real time, we also compile, collate, and index our own datasets.


Foreign Relations 1


Example of our recent work: 

The quantitative measurement of Dutch foreign relations

Based on a conceptual framework measuring both Dutch interests abroad and Dutch values, we create a comprehensive data driven model that identifies critical allies and potential rivals to the Netherlands. 


3.1.1 Total Utility Highest Scores in 2018




For additional info, please contact:

Stephan De Spiegeleire, Principal Scientist

Tim Sweijs, Research Director

Ninoslav Malekovic, Chief Data Scientist

Paul Verhagen, Data Scientist Total Utility Scores in 2018 per Region

Stephan De Spiegeleire is Principal Scientist at HCSS. He has Master’s degrees from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Columbia University in New York, as well as a C.Phil. degree in Political Science from UCLA. He worked for the RAND Corporation for nearly ten years, interrupted by stints at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the WEU’s Institute for Security Studies. Mr. De Spiegeleire started out as a Soviet specialist, but has since branched out into several fields of international security and defense policy. His current work at HCSS focuses on strategic defense management, security resilience, network-centrism, capabilities-based planning, and the transformation of defense planning.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Paul Verhagen is a data scientist at HCSS, and holds a Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Management from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree at Amsterdam University College majoring in theoretical physics and philosophy. Paul has attended exchange programs in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Prior to joining HCSS, Paul interned at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he worked on global cyber capacity.