Case Study

Visual Analytics for
the Military Balance+ by IISS

Project Brief

We created the embedded analytics solution in the Military Balance+ platform, providing advanced multi-faceted interactive data visualizations that power IISS’s selected rich defense datasets. Our solution is tailored to fit on top of the existing Military Balance+ infrastructure (i.e. database, UI, hosting) as a powerful yet lightweight component. We designed and delivered this embedded analytics solution based on Keshif’s core rapid development, customization, and deployment capabilities. Keshif's new visualization and analytics features provide IISS with new capabilities for 360 degree analysis, presentation, and querying of information across dimensions, geography and time, demonstrating the utility, power, and analytical flexibility of its extensive datasets. Our solution helps increase engagement of analysts and policy-makers, ultimately enabling greater opportunities to understand and explore global, regional and country-based trends in defense economics, and military deployment activities.

About Military Balance +

The Military Balance is the IISS’ annual assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries worldwide. It is an essential resource for those involved in security policymaking, analysis and research, providing the best unclassified data and analysis across military budgets and defense spending, personnel and equipments, deployments, arms orders, and procurement activities. The IISS Military Balance+ is the online Military Balance database that provides in-depth access and advanced analytics to this indispensable information and analysis for individuals and users in government, the armed forces, the private sector, academia, the media and more.

The Challenge

The IISS has been collecting unclassified, independent information on military capabilities around the world, with its first Military Balance publication recorded in 1959. In 2017, the IISS created the Military Balance+ platform as the new digital front-page that provides the latest military information and analysis to analysts across industries, with the desired capacity to present tremendous new capabilities in presentation, search, querying, analysis, and access to this go-to source data.

Without new innovations, a treasure trove of Military Balance data could be stuck in tables, static charts, and non-interactive data querying solutions that required navigation across disperse pages. Solutions utilizing the latest design and technology in data visualization and analytics could be costly, time-consuming, difficult to maintain, and complex integrate with existing systems. That was before Keshif proposed to apply and customize its technology as an embedded analytics solutions that fits into targeted datasets and unique, rich methodologies within the Military Balance+.

Solution Highlights

In order to create elegant, user friendly, and analytically powerful visualization solutions within the Military Balance+ platform, we licensed our core data visualization and visual analytics technology, and customized it to the needs of specific data sections within Military Balance+ by working alongside the IISS subject matter and data experts.

  • Keshif’s dashboards expanded the visual analytics capabilities within the Military Balance+ platform, enabling its users to explore and query directly within the charts and dashboards, and see new trends in selected data with real-time responsiveness.
  • Our solution integrates seamlessly and securely on top of the existing Military Balance+ data backends, user-interface front-ends, and related technical infrastructure. The new charting and visual analytics powers are added to the platform noninvasively, with only the most minimal changes in its existing codebase and design.
  • Our solution provides separate pathways into global, regional, and per-country dashboards based on the information and navigation structure of the Military Balance+ platform.
  • We designed the dashboard solutions working with IISS experts to highlight key data points and trends while also allowing a fully integrated and in-sync exploratory powers that can take users from overview to details in the data through rapid querying.
  • Our dashboards integrate IISS’ raster map layers and regional boundaries to depict geographical information with on-brand styling and information accuracy.
  • Our licensing and maintenance approach helps the IISS save money and time while delivering high-quality interactive dashboards and innovative visual analytics features. Our team quickly responds to emerging needs and data maintenance requests.
  • Our customizations include presentation, styling, and dynamic charting updates that provide additional context of the data and countries on demand, and match the Military Balance+ branding.

The interactive visual analytics components of the Military Balance+ are powered by Keshif design and technology.


Keshif was very creative and proactive in helping the defence analysis team at the IISS think through data visualisation options that drive customer insight. The Keshif team has been very responsive throughout the whole process and a real pleasure to work with.

Dr. Bastian Giegerich, Director of Defence and Military Analysis, IISS

About the Client, the International Institute for Strategic Studies

International Institute for Strategic Studie (IISS) is a research institute providing facts, analysis, and enabling policy actions and debate. The IISS produces independent, policy-relevant data about conflict, however caused, that may have an important military dimension; identifies crucial questions and publishes clear, precise and timely analysis on strategic issues; and informs government policy formulation and shapes public debate by convening heads of state, government ministers and experts at their world-renowned Shangri-La and Manama Dialogues events.

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