Regional workshop on the use of mobile phone data
for official statistics
Hosted by the BPS Statistics Indonesia

  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 11 - 14 June 2019


In September 2015, the international community agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets to be achieved by 2030 - a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. To monitor progress, a global set of SDG indicators has been developed which all countries are required to regularly report on.

For example, SDG indicators should help to monitor progress on target 8.9 (to promote sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products) or target 10.7 (to facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people). Traditional data collection methods, such as surveys, are not sufficient to address the increased demand for timely, frequent and granular data.

For this reason, the UN Statistical Commission created – in 2014 – the UN Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for official statistics to develop and test the use of new data sources and new technologies. The aim of the GWG is to lower the barriers of entry, particularly for developing countries, in the use of Big Data, such as satellite data, mobile phone data, scanner data, and social media data.

Mobile phone data could help determine where tourists and migrants come from, how long they stay and where they go. Data could also be used for establishing commuter patterns and traffic monitoring as well as support urban planning. The granularity of information which potentially can be obtained through using mobile phone data is much higher than what can be obtained through traditional surveys. The time lag from data collection to analysis could also be significantly reduced.

The workshop will introduce the use of mobile phone data in the statistical production process. It will explain what mobile phone data are, why and how they need to be pre-processed and how we can derive statistics from them. How mobile phone data can complement traditional data sources and the use of non traditional methods and data sources for producing official statistics will also be discussed. Sample data sets will be used for hands-on work. Further, case studies will be described from a few countries where mobile phone data have already been used for official statistics. Finally, the work of the Task Team on the Use of Mobile Phone Data of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data will be highlighted and the UN Global Platform will also be described, as a digital platform enabling international collaboration.

The workshop will feed into the work of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics to develop a Handbook on the use of Mobile Phone data for Official Statistics and an e-learning training programme on use of mobile phone data for official statistics.


Hands-on training of National Statistical Office staff about the use of Mobile Positioning Data in Official Statistics

Key Outcomes

  • Understand mobile phone data
  • Know basic methods for mobile phone data analysis for various statistics
  • Know how to plan for an MPD project


  • Siim Esko, Positium
  • Alfatihah Reno Maulani, BPS Statistics Indonesia
  • Karoly Kovacs, UNSD
  • Tanja Sejersen, UNESCAP

Session 1 - Introduction to Mobile Phone Data  

Why Mobile Phone Data use in Official Statistics?
  • How does big data (and MPD in particular) fit into the larger international official statistics context?
  • How does big data fit from the perspective of the fundamental principles of official statistics
  • What are the applications of MPD in official statistics
Mobile Phone Data overview
  • Forms of mobile phone data
  • Technical specificities of the origins of mobile phone data
  • The usual MPD format
  • Describe the metadata of the mobile phone data sample given

Session 2 - Accessing Mobile Phone Data  

Mobile Phone Data Access
  • Stakeholders to include, their roles and motivations
  • Legal access
  • Cooperation with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)
  • Read and analyse the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between BPS Statistics Indonesia and MNO

Session 3 - Frameworks for Processing Mobile Phone Data  

Preparing to work with MPD for Official Statistics
  • How to set up the core methodological framework for MPD
  • How to set up the Quality Assurance framework for MPD
  • Cleaning and pre-processing the data

Session 4 - Data pre-processing and usual environment calculation  

How to calculate home locations and usual environment?
  • First steps after cleaning the data
  • Definition of home and usual environment in data
  • From simple to complex home location detection
  • With the given sample data, calculate home location and usual environment

Session 5 - Tourism calculation  

How to calculate tourism statistics?
  • Definition of tourism in data
  • How to calculate trips
  • How to calculate trips outside usual environment
  • With the given sample data, calculate outbound and domestic tourism trips

Session 6 - Data science  

How to use data science with mobile phone data
  • Methodological issues in data science by Wayne Wobcke, School of Computer Science and Engineering University of New South Wales
  • Examples of data science with mobile phone data by UN Global Pulse Lab Jakarta (field trip)

Session 7 - Planning a Mobile Phone Data Project  

Creating a concept note for a mobile phone data project
  • Specifying the need – problem in statistics to overcome, the MPD solution, potential benefit from MPD
  • Overview of data access principles – defining the scope of access and legal conditions surrounding it
  • Overview of existing and needed hardware, software and skills
  • Coming up with a cost estimate and funding sources
  • Creating a roadmap
  • Develop a description of the most urgent need in statistics in the corresponding country
  • Develop a concept note for tackling that need with mobile phone data
  • Present the concept note


Discussion and wrap up
  • Revisiting the fundamental principles of official statistics and big data
  • Work of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data in Official Statistics and the UN Global Platform