IEEE VAST 2006 Contest

Dataset Image



The dataset will consist of:

  • About 1200 news stories from the Alderwood Daily News plus a few other items collected by the previous investigators
  • A few photos
  • A few maps of Alderwood and vicinity  (in bitmap image form)
  • A few files with other mixed materials, e.g. a spreadsheet with voter registry information or a phone call log (all provided with descriptive information)
  • A couple of pages of background information (in text form). 

The dataset contains fictitious information and was created for testing and evaluation of visual analytic tools only. No part of this dataset should be taken as real.


Welcome to Alderwood, Washington, a fictitious American town in central Washington state. 

In January 2003, the FBI is tipped off to possible political shenanigans in the mid-sized vacation town of Alderwood, located on the banks of the Alderwood River in south-central Washington State.  Alderwood was having problems resulting from the ‘dot-com’ crash:  The usual vacationers and tourists, most of whom were dependant upon the technology industry for their (quite substantial) income, suffered economic setbacks from the dot-com crash, resulting in reduced vacationing and tourism for the Alderwood recreation industry.  To make matters worse, routine testing at a local farm discovered bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, also known as ‘mad cow disease”) sending the remains of the local economy into a tailspin due from resulting beef import embargo imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and several foreign nations.  It's been a dismal scene. Yet, a sudden influx of young talented men and women relocating to Alderwood has caused a stir.  A not-so-reliable source has stated that high-paying, high-tech employment is now "a sure thing" in Alderwood, and it's all supported by "the high-rolling big boys at City Hall".  Another informant overheard that "if you support the bosses, the bosses will look after you."


Arm yourself with your best visual analytic tools to take over the ongoing investigation of the Alderwood activities.   Your results are to be presented to your 'supervisors' (the contest judges in this case).

Key Question to be answered:

What is the situation in this scenario and what is your assessment of the situation?
(Note that a situation may have multiple plots.)
For each most relevant plot (there may be only one) consider the following questions: 

  1. Who are the players relevant to the plot?
    Which of the relevant players are innocent bystanders?
    Which of the relevant players are deliberately engaged in deceptive activities?
    How are the relevant players connected?
  2. What is the time frame in which this situation unfolded?
    What events occurring during this time frame are relevant to the plot?
  3. What locations were relevant to the plot?
    What, if any, connections are there between relevant locations?
  4. What activities were going on in this time frame?
    Which players are involved in the different activities?

Remember, the goal is to answer the main question:

What is the situation and what is your assessment of the situation?


Events are things that occur in a short, discrete time frame.

Activities occur over a much longer span of time. 

For example, graduating from school would be an event.  Going to graduate school is an activity. 

All the submission information is on the contest home page.


The dataset was prepared by Jereme Haack, Carrie Varley, Mark Whiting and Katie Wolf from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.