Mobile Phone Metadata for Development [article]

Damien C. Jacques
2018 arXiv   pre-print
Mobile phones are now widely adopted by most of the world population. Each time a call is made (or an SMS sent), a Call Detail Record (CDR) is generated by the telecom companies for billing purpose. These metadata provide information on when, how, from where and with whom we communicate. Conceptually, they can be described as a geospatial, dynamic, weighted and directed network. Applications of CDRs for development are numerous. They have been used to model the spread of infectious diseases,
more » ... dy road traffic, support electrification planning strategies or map socio-economic level of population. While massive, CDRs are not statistically representative of the whole population due to several sources of bias (market, usage, spatial and temporal resolution). Furthermore, mobile phone metadata are held by telecom companies. Consequently, their access is not necessarily straightforward and can seriously hamper any operational application. Finally, a trade-off exists between privacy and utility when using sensitive data like CDRs. New initiatives such as Open Algorithm might help to deal with these fundamental questions by allowing researchers to run algorithms on the data that remain safely stored behind the firewall of the providers.
arXiv:1806.03086v1 fatcat:3jh3bjpo5zf4fp26ccxoevp6ly