Identifying displaced individuals after the 2018 Central Sulawesi disaster (Pulse Lab Jakarta, 2019)


The world's largest archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is regularly affected by disaster events, namely earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, droughts and landslides. According to the Indonesia Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) there were around 3,600 disaster events in 2019. Population displacement by disasters was one of the main challenges disaster authorities encountered in their disaster response efforts.

Following the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent liquefaction in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on 28 September 2018, more than 4,000 people were killed, and more than 210,000 people were displaced from their homes. In response, the Government of Indonesia, United Nations, and other humanitarian agencies deployed substantial amounts of resources to assist the affected population in its recovery.

When planning a mobilisation of this scale, the fundamental questions disaster relief agencies are typically confronted with are: who has been displaced? where are they going? and what type of assistance do they need? This project explores the feasibility of using high-frequency data from mobile networks to complement the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). DTM is the primary tool that has been used by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for monitoring population displacement and mobility since 2004, and it has been used to capture, process, and disseminate relevant information pertaining to affected individuals.

Insights on this approach

In partnership with IOM, Pulse Lab Jakarta sought to gain an understanding of post-disaster displacement linked to the earthquakes and tsunami that impacted Kota Palu and surrounding areas in the province of Central Sulawesi using mobile data from one of the mobile data providers in Indonesia. In particular, the research aimed to gather insights on internal displacement throughout the most affected districts in Central Sulawesi with a view to developing a proof of concept on the feasibility of using mobile network data for effective displacement assessment and to equip the Indonesian Government with a real-time information management system to help inform disaster analysis and response strategies.

Key steps taken for producing statistics

The project was divided into two phases. Phase I mainly focused on developing a proof of concept to show the viability of using mobile network data to develop relevant humanitarian related insights in relation to the disaster. Phase II had two components: (info) a co-designed workshop to gather feedback and lessons learned from key stakeholders and potential users based on progress made throughout Phase I; and (ii) the web-based data analytics and visualization platform with user-friendly functionalities to promote adoption among relevant disaster authorities within the Government and humanitarian actors.

Areas for improvement and challenges

The need to have strategic data partnerships and protocols in place to ensure adoption and sustainability

Links for further information

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