Posts by: Zach Romanow

C4ADS helps East African authorities and local NGOs seize over $10MM in illicit environmental goods

Throughout 2014, our partners at C4ADS have been using Palantir Gotham to uncover illicit networks involved in elephant poaching and the lucrative illegal ivory trade. C4ADS has integrated and analyzed open source data to shine a light on transnational networks trafficking in elephant ivory and other illegal environmental goods, while working with a coalition of NGOs, government partners, and private corporations. As an example of direct impact from this work, C4ADS’ analysis recently helped East African authorities identify a likely illicit shipment, leading to the seizure of at least $11 million in illegal environmental goods and making for one of the largest environmental crime seizures in African history.

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Following The Ivory

Mapping the Global Ivory Poaching Supply Chain with C4ADS

For the past year, the Washington, DC-based non-profit C4ADS has been using Palantir to investigate elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, an illicit trade that is at its highest level in 25 years. Their new report, Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory, reveals how specific criminal groups in Asia and Africa sustain the ivory trade and identifies common routes and potential bottlenecks in international transport, such as major shipping ports that ivory is likely to pass through.

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C4ADS and the Odessa Network: Understanding Illicit Networks Using Palantir Gotham

C4ADS has been in the spotlight lately. A front-page story in a recent Sunday edition of the Washington Post highlighted the D.C.-based organization’s data-driven research into illicit networks trafficking weapons and other goods throughout various conflict zones. Over the past year, their research into enablers of conflict has led them on a path of analysis from illegal shipments of ‘conflict charcoal’ out of Somalia to commercial ships that may be carrying arms and other sensitive cargo into Syria. In September, C4ADS released a report on a group they called the “Odessa Network,” claiming that this network had been transporting arms to the Syrian government via Ukraine. And as Senior Analyst Tom Wallace put it, C4ADS “couldn’t have done it without Palantir.”

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Discussing technology and atrocity prevention in Tanzania

Our Philanthropy Engineering team is proud to support a number of non-profits that are working to prevent atrocities. Our partners are contributing to real-time early warning and prevention of violence against civilians, using open source data-driven analysis to identify those financing and otherwise enabling atrocities, and helping to tell the story of mass atrocities occurring around the world. We have learned a lot from these partnerships about the role that technology can play in preventing atrocities, and are always looking for opportunities to share these lessons with like-minded organizations.

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Elbow Licking in Sudan: The Spread and Decline of Mass Unrest in Summer 2012


Disputes between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan led to a halt in oil production in early 2012, bringing an economic crisis to both countries. On June 16, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and his National Congress Party imposed austerity measures, including the withdrawal of wheat and fuel subsidies. Demonstrations against the regime broke out at universities across Sudan in response.

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