The volatility index is designed to address early warning and risk management. Rather than predict conflict rates far into the future with limited applicability, the index asks how stable and frequent the patterns of high and low violence rates are in specific areas. This is designed to offer more practical and useful information for engaging in conflict environments.
An area with high violence may be consistent in its conflict patterns, and programming and planning can adapt to stable conflict patterns. However, other areas may have high but unstable patterns, with intermittent peaks of even higher violence in already violent spaces; still other areas may have low baseline rates, but frequent intense bouts of conflict. In both latter situations, programming and analysis should consider the instability of conflict patterns, and the propensity for the political environment to quickly shift. This index quantifies how predictable and stable the overall rate of conflict is.