Big Data for Social Good is currently being trialled by Bharti Airtel in India; Telefonica in Brazil; and Telenor Group in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
In India, Bharti Airtel and the GSMA are working with Be He@lthy, Be Mobile (a joint initiative of the WHO and the ITU) to identify whether insights from mobile data can support national health systems. The trial is looking at how population volume and movement patterns can improve planning to control tuberculosis (TB), one of the biggest killers in India.
In the trial, mobile data is providing detailed, up-to-date behavioural insights across a population of 280 million people, delivering a combination of scale and granularity that is unattainable from any other data source. The trial is identifying potential hotspots at higher risk of TB, which could help target interventions such as vaccination programmes, tobacco cessation initiatives, awareness campaigns or the deployment of mobile clinics.
In these trials, operators are capturing anonymised, aggregated mobile indicators in a consistent output format, whilst respecting and protecting the privacy of individuals via an agreed code of conduct. The data is then combined with a wide variety of other data types to provide vital insights for public officials and NGOs.
The trials of its Big Data for Social Good initiative by Bharti Airtel, Telefonica and Telenor is creating a blueprint for future deployments that leverages mobile operators’ big data capabilities to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The GSMA also announced at Mobile World Congress today that six operators – KDDI, MegaFon, NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank, Telefónica and Turkcell – will work on a new phase of the initiative focused on disaster preparedness that builds on the foundation established over the past year.
The GSMA’s Big Data for Social Good initiative was launched in February 2017 and is today backed by 20 mobile operators with a presence in 124 markets around the world. The initiative has enabled mobile operators to jointly establish a holistic framework and approach to analysing the data captured on operators’ networks to help public agencies and NGOs tackle epidemics, natural disasters and environmental crises.
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA said, “We have equipped operators with a comprehensive blueprint of best practice guidelines for big data deployments. This approach has been tested and validated via several real-world trials around the world and supported by an advisory panel that has provided input from across the ecosystem.
“We are now expanding the initiative into the area of disaster preparedness, where we can harness the power of big data to understand, prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters on vulnerable populations,” added Granryd.
The Big Data for Social Good initiative is supported by an advisory panel consisting of global agencies and partners, including Data 2X, DIAL, GPSDD, Be He@lthy Be Mobile, OCHA, UN Global Pulse, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and, most recently, the World Bank.
The results of the trials to date, combined with mobile operators’ own initiatives, are providing the basis for the next wave of Big Data for Social Good deployments in 2018, which will focus on disaster preparedness in key countries including Chile, Colombia, Japan, Russia and Turkey.
In disaster-prone zones, mobile operators can access location and usage information in near real time, enabling relief agencies to identify zones at risk and direct resources efficiently. In Japan, for example, mobile operators are working with the Disaster Management Bureau Cabinet Office at the Government of Japan to allow rescue teams to act quickly and prioritise the deployment of resources in the event of a large-scale disaster.
In Latin America, Telefonica has an alliance with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to develop a better assessment of which regions and populations are most vulnerable to natural disasters linked to the effects of climate change to help authorities design prevention plans accordingly.