Migration is a complex phenomenon. It is complex because of its many different aspects, both practical and humanitarian, and in terms of security. Also because of the many parties involved. It is not new - it is literally of all times. The impact of migration is felt worldwide.

Through census data and counts, we know what happens when and where. But forecasts about migration flows, including enrichment on demographic elements, lack the desired accuracy, information richness and timely availability. While policy and policy interventions are actually based on forecasts.

Earth observation + data mining on social media

There is therefore a great need for predictive information. CGI responds to this by combining its knowledge and experience in the field of earth observation (satellite data) with its know-how of data mining on social media platforms. This combination leads to interesting insights, which is why we use this combination to develop new services:

  • Automatically detecting migration-related elements on images from space, such as groups of people, traces of trucks at unexpected places, tent camps, waste heaps and boats.
  • The targeted search for information on social media for data that provides insight into, for example, the sentiments of migrants at certain moments, but also information that is shared about routes and motives for taking certain routes.
  • Combining the above elements leads to a service that, before the event takes place,predicts the possible outcomes of migration movements.

Feasibility study

CGI has carried out a feasibility study for ESA to investigate whether and how emergency preparedness for migratory movements can be increased using space data and other data sources. The title of the study is ‘Big data applications for improved migration prognosis’. It describes various big data applications for early warning information on migration flows, combining satellite data in the broadest sense of the word with social media data mining.

The view expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.