We expect natural disasters and global crises to 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.
The benefits of using mobile positioning data (MPD) are manifold. With this innovative data source we can show the regular mobility and de facto population, which is beneficial when electricity or connectivity is compromised and real-time information cannot be gathered. MPD can also show mobility out of the crisis area which helps to assess whether the information from authorities is reaching vulnerable groups (time frame of near real-time to 24 hrs). In addition, authorities can monitor whether special restrictions have been effective or if they should be adjusted.
When the COVID-19 emergency situation was established in Estonia on March 12, 2020, several movement restrictions were imposed, and the public debated whether there must be a data-driven decision-making process. Three mobile network operators, Positium and the Statistics Office were tasked by the Estonian government to provide essential mobility information – how has people’s mobility changed during the emergency situation. Based on the work, decisions were taken on how to improve mobility restriction enforcement in some areas.