Researchers used satellite and cell phone data to map how malaria spreads throughout Namibia and show where elimination efforts have the greatest impact.
To reconstruct travel patterns, Namibia’s largest network provider, Mobile Telecommunications Limited, shared anonymized cell phone records of 1.2 million users from 2010-11 with researchers at the Flowminder Foundation and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. As calls are made, the locations of the cell towers through which signals pass are recorded. Call frequencies and locations then allow researchers to create detailed maps of human movement.
The project's use of phone records aimed to track and eliminate malaria in Namibia. As a result of their work, researchers were able to identify and provide bed nets to the 80,000 people most important to the malaria transmission cycle in 2013.