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Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.

Event | 29 Nov 2021

Harnessing data innovation for migration policy in Europe and Africa - State of the art and future directions

Place: Robert Bosch Foundation in Berlin in a hybrid format (online and in-person)

Due to current COVID-19-regulations, in-person participation will mostly be limited to speakers and co-organiser

Event recording available!

The event will be a space to reflect on how data innovation can concretely help to improve evidence on migration for policymaking and obtain insights on how to overcome some of the main challenges associated with new data sources and innovative methodologies.

The event will bring together experts in governments, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society to accelerate the use of non-traditional data sources and methods for migration-related policy in Europe and Africa.

Participants will have an opportunity to:
•    explore existing efforts in harnessing data innovation for migration analysis and policy in Europe and Africa;
•    discuss policy priorities of European and African countries and regions driving the need for timely, robust and comprehensive evidence; and
•    define future steps and capacities needed to develop data innovation initiatives at scale, particularly in terms of data governance.

The event is organised within the framework of the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) – a joint initiative of the European Commission Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD), IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), and the Governance Lab at New York University (GovLab) – in close collaboration with the African Union, the Robert Bosch Foundation, and with support from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI).

Call for blog posts is open

The Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) invites submissions of short blog posts from individuals and organisations working on topics related to data innovation across different sectors - international and non-governmental organisations, academia, civil society, government and the media.

The purpose is to showcase relevant experiences, opportunities and challenges of harnessing data innovation for migration policy in Europe and Africa.

Further information


In the information age, more data are produced than ever before. In 2020, their amount reached an estimated 64.2 zettabytes – equal to 64 trillion gigabytes, or the compound storage of 64 billion 1TB laptops. By 2025, this amount is expected to almost triple to a total of 180 zettabytes (Statista, 2021). The exponential increase in the availability of data and processing capabilities due to new technologies opened up an array of challenges and opportunities across many policy domains, including migration.

The growing complexity of internal and cross-border human mobility has pointed out the need for more accurate, timely, and reliable information to develop migration policy. This need, however, is only partly met by traditional data sources, such as surveys, administrative data, and censuses.

New data sources, including mobile phones, satellites, social media platforms, and innovative methods, such as those based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, can potentially contribute to addressing a wide range of migration-related policy questions in countries across Africa and Europe.

However, much of this potential has remained untapped in both Europe and Africa. Existing initiatives have uncovered a series of challenges, particularly concerning aspects of data governance.

To be able to effectively mainstream innovation in existing migration data systems, there is a need for guidance on how to develop adequate partnership frameworks between private and public entities, ensuring data quality, and guaranteeing security, privacy and ethical standards.

The workshop will contribute to advancing cross-sectoral discussions around these challenges, based on the state-of-the-art in data innovation in Europe and Africa, with the aim to accelerate the use of new data sources for migration-related policy.