Mobile Phone Data

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Introduction

The statistical community has the obligation of exploring the use of new data sources, such as Big Data, to meet the expectation of the society for enhanced products and improved and more efficient ways of working. Big Data could also support the monitoring of the Post-2015 development goals by improving timeliness and relevance of indicators without compromising their impartiality and methodological soundness. The report of the Global Working Group (GWG) to the Statistical Commission (E/CN.3/2015/4) provides additional background to the work of the task team, where the Terms of Reference of the GWG serves as general reference, but each task team also has its own specific terms.

The task team on Mobile Phone Data is created as a separate team, since Mobile Phone Data has surfaced in recent years as one of the Big Data sources with a lot of promise. It is expected that Mobile Phone data could fill data gaps especially for developing countries given their high penetration rates. In its 2014 “Measuring the Information Society Report”, ITU shows that the average mobile subscription rate is 96.4 per 100 inhabitants world-wide, with some lower averages in Asia (89.2) and Africa (69.3). Nevertheless, these numbers show how pervasive mobile phone use is. ITU elaborates that rural areas are still lacking behind urban areas, and this should be considered in studies using Mobile Phone data, but it is clear that the coverage of these data is global. Almost every person in the world lives within reach of a mobile-cellular signal.

Objectives

The task team on Mobile Phone Data is created as a separate team, since Mobile Phone Data has surfaced in recent years as one of the Big Data sources with a lot of promise. It is expected that Mobile Phone data could fill data gaps especially for developing countries given their high penetration rates. In its 2014 “Measuring the Information Society Report”, ITU shows that the average mobile subscription rate is 96.4 per 100 inhabitants world-wide, with some lower averages in Asia (89.2) and Africa (69.3). Nevertheless, these numbers show how pervasive mobile phone use is. ITU elaborates that rural areas are still lacking behind urban areas, and this should be considered in studies using Mobile Phone data, but it is clear that the coverage of these data is global. Almost every person in the world lives within reach of a mobile-cellular signal.

More specific objectives are (1) executing one or more pilot projects on the use of mobile phone data for official statistics and (2) documenting and publishing the lessons learned, as well as (3) preparing and maintaining a knowledge base on the use of mobile phone data.

If possible, the task team will develop tools and applications, which can be used by the statistical community. It will also develop templates of project plans, which could be used by interested countries.

Deliverables

  1. Develop a pilot project in Oman
  2. Participate in a pilot project of CSO Ireland
  3. Develop a knowledge base for the use of Mobile Phone data, starting with an inventory of ongoing activities

Members

Countries

  • Australia
  • Cameroon
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Mexico
  • Oman
  • Tanzania

International Organizations

  • Eurostat
  • ITU
  • UN Global Pulse
  • UNSD
  • World Bank
  • Positium