Using “Big Data” to forecast migration

A tale of high expectations, promising results and a long road ahead

Act 1 — High Expectations

“Data is the new oil,” they say. ‘Big Data’ is even bigger than that. The “data revolution” will contribute to solving societies’ problems and help governments adopt better policies and run more effective programs. In the migration field, digital trace data are seen as a potentially powerful tool to improve migration management processes (visa applications; asylum decision and geographic allocation of asylum seeker, facilitating integration, “smart borders” etc.).1

Act 2 — Promising Results

Indeed, a growing number of studies hint at the potential of big data for migration forecasting. Let’s take two prominent examples: the use of Google Trends and Facebook networks.

Act 3 — A Long Road Ahead

So far, so promising. Yet, it will be a long way until forecasts based on these digital data will meet policy makers’ expectations.

Official account of IOM, the UN Migration Agency.