The GSMA has announced new developments in its Big Data for Social Good initiative, which was launched in February 2017 to leverage mobile operators’ big data capabilities in addressing epidemics and humanitarian crises.
The announcement was made at the United Nations General Assembly Week, where Megafon, Safaricom and Telenet have signed on to the initiative, joining previously announced operators Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison, KDDI, KT Corporation, Millicom, MTS, NTT DOCOMO, INC., Orange, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia, Turkcell, Vodafone and Zain.
The Big Data for Social Good initiative is now backed by 19 companies with a presence in 124 markets around the world.
Additionally, the GSMA has established an Advisory Panel to provide guidance to the initiative, as well as coordination and integration with the broader ecosystem. The Panel is comprised of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) and Data2X, as well as leading big data experts from UN agencies including Be He@lthy, Be Mobile (a joint initiative by WHO and ITU), OCHA, UN Global Pulse, UNDP, UNHCR and WFP. The Advisory Panel will play a fundamental role in identifying where, when and how mobile big data can best support health and humanitarian efforts.
“The GSMA and our mobile operator members are committed to working with UN agencies and national governments to provide critical mobile big data to help address the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “This marks the first time the mobile industry and such a range of UN agencies are collaborating on a single broad initiative. This unique approach will enable us to create a holistic Big Data for Social Good framework that spans the agencies’ varied requirements from the outset, ensuring that decision makers have the necessary information, when and where they need it.”
Big Data for Social Good Trials Underway
Initial trials of Big Data for Social Good for epidemics and environmental pollution are currently underway with Bharti Airtel in India, Telefónica in Brazil, and Telenor Group in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. In the trials, operators are capturing anonymised, aggregated mobile indicators in a consistent output format to provide insights into human movement patterns. These insights are then layered with third-party data sources, such as disease prevalence, infrastructure and resource locations, pollution and weather data, to support agencies as they make decisions on when, where and how to deploy resources. The GSMA expects to publish the results of these trials at Mobile World Congress in February 2018.
“Operators are already making a strong contribution to all of the Sustainable Development Goals,” continued Granryd. “Big data presents a huge opportunity for operators to accelerate and scale the impact they can have in achieving the SDGs.”