Telefónica announced its collaboration with Unicef’s Magic Box initiative at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). Magic Box is a Big Data for Social Good platform which collects real-time data, combining and analysing aggregated and anonymised data from private sector companies. It was launched in 2014, when it was used to respond to the Ebola crisis in Western Africa and more recently to the spread of the Zika virus.
At the Mobile World Congress, both parties demonstrated the first pilot of this partnership. Telefónica mobile network data from Colombia was used to show how data can be analysed to improve the management of humanitarian disasters, providing alarms and supporting critical response and recovery monitoring. The natural disasters include an earthquake, a landslide and a flood. They were analysed for this first project, using mobile usage data per antenna (e.g. number of calls, megabytes and SMS) and mobility data to understand human movement.
Telefónica joins other companies like Google, Amadeus and IBM to enable the growth of Big Data for Social Good in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Unlike other initiatives, which have mostly focused on pilots to demonstrate the value of Big Data to better understand humanitarian disasters, Magic Box goes one step further. It combines real-time data sourced from the private sector with other existing public data sets relating to climate, GIS (UNICEF’s Geographic Information System), and socioeconomic and epidemiological data. By unlocking the value of this real-time data can optimise its response to public health emergencies and natural disasters – protecting children and saving lives in an increasingly unpredictable world.
By means of an Application Programming Interface (API), companies are able to share their anonymised and aggregated datasets in the Magic Box platform, where, once combined with public data sets, provides insights for emergencies.
As well as sharing datasets, UNICEF’s innovation department will work with Telefónica’s specialist Big Data unit, LUCA, to accelerate the use of Data Science and Data Engineering in developing real-time humanitarian data analytics.