A new joint project between the European Union and the UN migration agency International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will use depersonalized big data, provided in real time from social networks and other online sources, to identify new trends linked to migrants.
The project, titled Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M), will start by using data from Facebook's advertising platform. The global initiative aims to use available information that has thus far never been utilized to help policymakers have a real-time view of the situation, as compared to using real statistics which take much longer.
Data for a picture of migratory trends
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, together with the IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (DMAC), analyzed and compared data from Facebook's advertising platform with Eurostat and UN data, showing that it is possible to interpret the data to obtain an accurate picture of migratory trends.
Facebook identifies 273 million expats living throughout the world, which is close to the 258 million international global migrants from UN statistics. The new network that has been put into place will now have the goal of working with this data in a statistical way, in full respect of ethical and privacy regulations, using only anonymous data. The work will involve researchers and public and private institutions, to obtain information on trends in 'real' time, as well as compensating for the lack of information from countries where data is not gathered or not available.