Iran Watch is a comprehensive website that tracks and assesses Iran’s capacity to build unconventional weapons. Its collection includes 6,000+ reports, international documents, news briefs, supplier and suspect entity profiles, dating back to the 1970s. The goal of the website is to make detailed knowledge of Iran’s weapon potential available to policymakers, the media, private scholars and the general public.
Iran Watch previously had a static HTML website, which staff was managing with Dreamweaver. With over 6,000 items of content, it had grown overly cumbersome, and it was very time-consuming for staff to add a new item and then remember to list it in all the appropriate places on the site. We chose Drupal as the new platform for the site, because it's an excellent tool for organizing and cross-referencing large amounts of content.
Our primary challenge was to organize the information. We found it fell into different types, including: publications written by the Iran Watch team; documents written by governments and multilateral organizations like the United Nations; international enforcement actions. In addition, there were profiles on the known suppliers and entities suspected to be involved. We categorized all of these things by related country, and by weapon program(s) -- nuclear, missile, or chemical.
In addition, we found a rich opportunity to cross-reference items. For example, many of the documents established sanctions on certain Iranian entities. In the old static website, these were not linked to the entity profiles (even though the corresponding profiles did exist on the website) because it would have been too labor-intensive. Now, everything is cross-referenced. When posting a new document, staff can assign related entities and suppliers via name-lookup, just as you'd assign tags to a blog post. As a result, the related entities are listed and linked alongside the document. This is a huge time-saver for staff, and a helpful service to anyone researching or browsing the site.
Visit the Iran Watch website at www.iranwatch.org.