Thursday, August 23, 2012

Migration (and cellphones).

Partly for work but mostly as a treat I often read articles in Science, Nature, PNAS, etc. As you know I'm interested in "migration", and also have been working on a phone-based project in Congo (more here). How cool is it to combine both? Well, this cool:
Most severe disasters cause large population movements. These movements make it difficult for relief organizations to efficiently reach people in need. Understanding and predicting the locations of affected people during disasters is key to effective humanitarian relief operations and to long-term societal reconstruction. We col- laborated with the largest mobile phone operator in Haiti (Digicel) and analyzed the movements of 1.9 million mobile phone users during the period from 42 d before, to 341 d after the devastating Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010. Nineteen days after the earthquake, population movements had caused the population of the capital Port-au-Prince to decrease by an estimated 23%. Both the travel distances and size of people’s movement trajectories grew after the earthquake. These findings, in combination with the disorder that was present after the disaster, suggest that people’s movements would have become less predictable. Instead, the predictability of people’s trajectories remained high and even in- creased slightly during the three-month period after the earth- quake. Moreover, the destinations of people who left the capital during the first three weeks after the earthquake was highly cor- related with their mobility patterns during normal times, and spe- cifically with the locations in which people had significant social bonds. For the people who left Port-au-Prince, the duration of their stay outside the city, as well as the time for their return, all followed a skewed, fat-tailed distribution. The findings suggest that population movements during disasters may be significantly more predictable than previously thought.
From Lu, X., Bengtsson, L., & Holme, P. (2012). Predictability of Population Displacement After the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Reading on Migration:

Btw, there is quite a bit of reading out there on migration (and with a wide variance in quality). Some journals below (with their impact factor if I could find it):
I also regularly check the website of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, and Forced Migration Online should be in this list as well.

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