Providing support to MNOs to produce established aggregates in the absence of automated pipeline (DRC, Sierra Leone and Curacao)


MNOs; Flowminder Foundation.


At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgent need for information about population movements saw the development of two streams of support to MNOs and statistical offices in low and middle-income countries. The first was to capitalise on automated pipelines already set up which had direct and continuous access to individual CDRs from MNOs or from the telecom regulator. This was the case in countries such as Haiti, Ghana (see use Case #5) and Namibia where long-standing relationships had been built and existing data pipelines were therefore already available for immediate analysis. The second option was to quickly establish collaborations with MNOs, telecom regulators and/or other actors already working with these bodies, with the aim of rapidly producing CDR-derived aggregates (e.g. the number of displacements between two regions or simplified trajectories of group of users) by simply providing code to run on CDR data held by these parties and supporting them with technical assistance to ensure code was run effectively, anomalies were detected, and data was organised in ways that enabled it to run effectively. In this scenario no access was created to the data itself, for Flowminder analysts. When the required data aggregates had to be frequently updated, an automated system could also be put in place to run the code at specified times, to produce and share updated results. In the absence of time to establish a data pipeline, this approach worked well for cases where those who had the CDR data were either themselves asking for urgent support or were willing partners with other bodies, such as statistical agencies, in delivering the data quickly to relevant parties (e.g., government task forces for COVID-19 response plans). The results of both approaches were shown to be particularly useful in providing rapid insights needed into changes in people's mobility following the imposition of movement restrictions such as lockdowns and curfews.

Insights on this approach

  • Advantages and limitations of case #2 compared to #1
  • Result on mobility changes

Areas of improvement and challenges

  • Robust future-proof aggregates
  • Contact established and training material available for case #2

Links for further information

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