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Communications of the ACM

Europe Region special section: Hot topics

Mobile Phone Usage Data for Disaster Response

man's hands using a mobile phone

Credit: Getty Images

Severe disasters can cause large population movements as affected people are displaced from their residences. The humanitarian response to such events relies on understanding where affected people are located. Mobility data can provide important insights at all stages of a crisis, from preparedness to long-term recovery.

At Flowminder, a nonprofit foundation based in Sweden, the U.K., and Switzerland, we are working to support decision-makers to transform the lives of vulnerable people by facilitating access to novel sources of mobility data, including Call Detail Records (CDRs). Across Europe, non-profits, national statistical services, academic institutions, and mobile network operators (MNOs), including Orange, Telefonica, Telenor, and Vodafone, are collaborating on using CDR to support public policy. Additionally, the European Commission established the High-Level Expert Group on Business-to-Government Data Sharing to support such collaborations, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.9


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