#mwc2017: GSMA, 16 Global Mobile Operators partner to use big data capabilities to address humanitarian crises

The impact of humanitarian crises such as epidemics and disasters is staggering.

Each year, it is estimated that 15 million people die and millions more become seriously ill as a result of infectious diseases which are spread through human contact as well as other sources.

It’s estimated that 1.8 billion people were affected by disaster in the last decade and economic losses due to disaster amounted to $1.5 trillion from 2003 to 2013.

It is in regard to this that GSMA in partnership with 16 Global Leading Mobile Operators has launched the “Big Data for Social Good” initiative at the 2017 Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona Spain.

The 16 mobile operators will include; Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison, KDDI, KT Corporation, Millicom, MTS, NTT DOCOMO, INC., Orange, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor, Telia, Turkcell, Vodafone and Zain which collectively account for over 2 billion connections across more than 100 countries.

The initiative will leverage mobile operators’ big data capabilities to address humanitarian crises, including epidemics and natural disasters.

The United Nations Foundation will also come on board in as a supporting partner, providing coordination and integration with the broader ecosystem, including organisations such as Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).

Trials of Big Data for Social Good, focusing on epidemics, will start from June 2017 in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Myanmar and Thailand.

“A year ago, the mobile industry became the first sector as a whole to commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and, as outlined in our Mobile Industry Impact Report published in September, we are already affecting all 17 Goals to varying degrees,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA said in a statement.

“We are now focused on amplifying and accelerating our industry’s impact in achieving the SDGs, and the initiative that we are announcing today will contribute greatly in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing humanity: epidemics and natural disasters,” added Mr. Granryd.

Through Big Data for Social Good, mobile operators will provide key insights based on anonymised meta-data generated by their networks to support the response in these critical situations.

A major goal of the Big Data for Social Good initiative will be to develop scalable, common processes and mechanisms and build an ecosystem to support timely planning and response to crises.

To support this, GSMA will be establishing a code of conduct designed to ensure that all activity undertaken adheres to strict privacy regulations. Further, GSMA is working to standardise the process, leveraging common algorithms and processes to generate insights, as well as defining de-facto standard output formats for sharing insights and mechanisms for delivering insights.

Initial trials of Big Data for Social Good for epidemics are set to begin from June, with Bharti Airtel in India, Telefónica in Brazil, and Telenor in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.

The Big Data for Social Good initiative will positively impact many of the SDGs, including SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals).


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