Digicel Telecom, Karolinska, and Columbia University Partnership

Observed Personal Data Health


Digicel Haiti provided researchers anonymized data on the position of 1.9 million SIMs in Haiti from 42 days before the 2010 earthquake until 158 days afterwards.

Researchers at Karolinska Institute 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 analyzing anonymized data on which mobile phone towers were used to make calls. They then reported their analyses directly to the UN and other aid organizations 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 response of victims of the earthquake and to better plan relief and aid strategies.

Region: North America

includes kosovo