The first post on big data on this website was in September 2011. By 2012, we were working on the topic with mobile network big data in hand. Six years ago, we were alone in the field. The meetings we had in multiple countries with multiple operators did not yield the additional data we desired. But we can be happy that our efforts such as an early dissemination effort at ITU Telecom World may have contributed to a more enlightened attitude that made possible the effort described below:
The GSMA has announced that more operators have joined its “Big Data for Social Good” initiative and that the first wave of trials have been conducted by Bharti Airtel, Telefonica and Telenor. The project was launched a year ago with the support of 16 of the world’s leading mobile operators and is now backed by 20 operators, with a presence in 124 markets around the world. The GSMA also announced at Mobile World Congress that 6 operators – KDDI, MegaFon, NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank, Telefónica and Turkcell – will work on a new phase of the initiative focused on disaster preparedness in key countries including Chile, Colombia, Japan, Russia and Turkey.
Big Data for Social Good is currently being trialled by Bharti Airtel in India, by Telefonica in Brazil and by Telenor Group in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. In these trials, operators are capturing anonymised, aggregated mobile indicators in a consistent output format, whilst respecting and protecting the privacy of individuals via an agreed code of conduct, said the GSMA. The data is then combined with a wide variety of other data types to provide vital insights for public officials and NGOs.