We have seen that natural disasters and global crises have become more frequent, making communities around the world vulnerable to their impact. But, if we know the approximate location of mobile users at any given time, and how they react in terms of their mobility in crisis circumstances, it is possible to plan a thorough response in these situations.

Using MPD, authorities can assess the exposure risk of populations in disaster scenarios. As opposed to the static picture painted by census records, MPD shows where people actually move, which is a great benefit considering that people are mobile. The unique value of MPD in disaster situations is that the data is passively collected with regular intervals without one-on-one interaction. MPD also allows looking back in time to compare behaviour during ‘normal’ scenarios or during previous disaster scenarios.

This is the time to build better data pipelines for more resilient disaster response:
  1. We are facing growing risks from natural disasters and epidemics across the globe. Are your country and organisation prepared to protect your people and valuable assets? Mobile positioning data improves resilience and response in crisis scenarios.
  2. Being prepared for any crisis requires a combined application of static and dynamic data. Mobile positioning data complements existing static data, such as census and field reports, and provides accurate and up-to-date information on population movement.
  3. Mobile positioning data is being used by leading governments and disaster relief organisations to fundamentally improve disaster response management. Over 40 countries across the world used mobile data analytics in the fight against COVID-19*.
* GSMA AI for Impact. Utilising mobile big data and AI to benefit society: Insights from the Covid-19 response

Animation of Finnish tourists in Estonia

Mobile positioning data (MPD) is changing the way disaster response is done, by replacing old methods, which relied on forecasts and estimates, static census data and even manual field reports. All of these created large gaps between the reality on the ground and the information available when creating an effective response, resulting in strategies and tactics that were unnecessarily slow, static and ineffective. This resulted in the loss of valuable time and, most importantly, the loss of lives that could have been saved.

Luckily we have now reached a tipping point, as MPD is being adopted at a broader scale. MPD analytics are providing governments and key organisations with decision-making power based on near real-time data that is 4x faster than previous methods, while simultaneously being 2.5x more cost-efficient and 10x more effective.

Positium, the global market leader in MPD analytics, is paving the way with this development. Founded in 2003, we have nearly two decades of experience in MPD for official statistics, working with global clients and scientists alike. Positium’s mission is to empower decision-makers with the best available data to build a better future for people around the world.

Data-driven disaster management

The key question in preparing for and resolving crises is the number of people who may be in danger and require assistance. In order to plan the necessary resources and make the right decisions, we need increasingly better tools to estimate the number of people in the affected area in these emergencies.

For that reason, mobile positioning data is essential for us when executing wise and effective responses to a wide range of crises, such as forest fires, natural and chemical disasters.

Positium’s software solution allows us to do that and represents a major improvement in our ability to quickly generate an effective response. Positium has been an excellent partner in future proofing our organisation and ensuring we operate on the cutting edge of technology.

Margo Klaos, Estonian Rescue Board

MPD can show the number of people in the area and monitor their movements between area units with hourly and village-level accuracy. Within the BuildERS project, in addition to using near real-time MPD, Positium has now explored using historical MPD for crisis management. MPD has proven to be highly valuable information in the pre-crisis phase. Read the case studies made in Estonia and Indonesia in the article "Building resilience through mobile phone data in Estonia and Indonesia".

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