Initiatives from BD4M and its members


Big Data and alternative sources on migration: From case-studies to policy support

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Over the past few years, migration has risen as one of the most challenging issues confronting policymakers around the world. This has been particularly true for countries in the Global South grappling with displacement caused by natural disasters, violence and human rights abuses, but also for countries in the North – namely in Europe – which saw relatively large increases in inflows of asylum- seekers from poor, unstable or war-torn countries. The growing complexity of internal and cross-border human mobility has highlighted the need for reliable and timely data to inform humanitarian assistance and policy responses – a need that traditional statistical systems are often not well-equipped to meet. Meanwhile, most of the data that exists in the world today are not collected by national statistical offices but by private companies or international agencies. Estimates suggest that about 90% of world’s data were generated only in the last two years. Technological innovations and the reduction in the cost of digital devices have meant that vast amounts of data generated through use of mobile phones, internet-based platforms and other digital devices are now collected in real time, at very little cost. Sensible and responsible analyses of these “digital crumbs” have the potential to offer important insights into societal phenomena, including migration, as demonstrated by a number of promising applications. However, a series of issues, ranging from access and analytical difficulties to privacy and security risks, mean that such vast potential still remains largely untapped. This workshop gathered representatives from the academic, policy and business communities to discuss the state-of-the-art in data innovations in the field of migration, and identify possible ways to bring analytical insights from new data sources closer to migration policy needs.



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