Digicel Haiti provided researchers anonymized data on the position of 1.9 million SIMs in Haiti from 42 days before the 2010 earthquake to 158 days afterwards.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Columbia University in New York sought the cooperation of Digicel, the largest mobile phone operator in Haiti, and started to monitor the daily movements of two million mobile phones by analysing anonymised data on which mobile phone towers were used to make calls. They then reported their analyses directly to the UN and other aid organisations working in Haiti.
Nearly 200,000 SIMs that were present in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck were no longer in the city as of 19 days post-earthquake. Just under a third of Port-au-Prince's residents were mobile phone subscribers at the time of the earthquake, so this movement of SIMs equates to the movement of 630,000 people. With this information, researchers were able to better understand the needs and reponse of victims of the earthquake, and better planned relief and aid strategies.