GLOBAL – The GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has launched an initiative to use mobile operators’ big data capabilities to address humanitarian crises.

Bangladesh crop

The programme, Big Data for Social Good, will aim to tackle crises such as epidemics and natural disasters, and is being launched alongside 16 of the world’s leading mobile operators, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone. 

Trials of the programme will focus initially on epidemics and will start from June 2017 in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Myanmar and Thailand. The objective of these pilots will be to develop common capabilities to monitor, alert, predict and manage the spread of diseases. Operators will provide insights based on anonymised meta-data, using common data feeds and algorithms to offer insight into human movement patterns. 

This data will be enriched with third-party data sources including hospital intakes, death counts and weather data. The GSMA expects to publish the results of the trials at next year’s Mobile World Congress. 

The United Nations Foundation is a supporting partner and will provide coordination and integration with the broader ecosystem, including organisations such as Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).  

“Big Data for Social Good will build on examples from across the globe, of operators large and small, in developed and developing economies, investing in big data to improve society across a number of areas,” said Mats Granryd, director general at GSMA.

“It also complements the experience and insights gained through GSMA programmes such as Disaster Response, mHealth, Connected Living and others, with an emphasis on delivering accelerated, demonstrable impact that can be extended further to address other areas of global concern.”