While static, this crisis map includes a truly unique detail. Click on the map below to see a larger version as this may help you spot what is so striking.
For a hint, click this link. Still stumped? Look at the sources listed in the Key.
As is well known, “estimates of demographic ﬂows are inexistent, outdated, or largely inconsistent, for most countries.” I would add costly to that list as well. So my QCRI colleague Ingmar Weber co-authored a very interesting study on the use of e-mail data to estimate international migration rates.
The study analyzes a large sample of Yahoo! emails sent by 43 million users between September 2009 and June 2011. “For each message, we know the date when it was sent and the geographic location from where it was sent. In addition, we could link the message with the person who sent it, and with the user’s demographic information (date of birth and gender), that was self reported when he or she signed up for a Yahoo! account. We estimated the geographic location from where each email message was sent using the IP address of the user.”
The authors used data on existing migration rates for a dozen countries and international statistics on Internet diffusion rates by age and gender in order to correct for selection bias. For example, “estimated number of migrants, by age group and gender, is multiplied by a correction factor to adjust for over-representation of more educated and mobile people in groups for which the Internet penetration is low.” The graphs below are estimates of age and gender-specific immigration rates for the Philippines. “The gray area represents the size of the bias correction.” This means that “without any correction for bias, the point estimates would be at the upper end of the gray area.” These methods “correct for the fact that the group of users in the sample, although very large, is not representative of the entire population.”
The results? Ingmar and his co-author Emilio Zagheni were able to “estimate migration rates that are consistent with the ones published by those few countries that compile migration statistics. By using the same method for all geographic regions, we obtained country statistics in a consistent way, and we generated new information for those countries that do not have registration systems in place (e.g., developing countries), or that do not collect data on out-migration (e.g., the United States).” Overall, the study documented a “global trend of increasing mobility,” which is “growing at a faster pace for females than males. The rate of increase for different age groups varies across countries.”
The authors argue that this approach could also be used in the context of “natural” disasters and man-made disasters. In terms of future research, they are interested in evaluating “whether sending a high proportion of e-mail messages to a particular country (which is a proxy for having a strong social network in the country) is related to the decision of actually moving to the country.” Naturally, they are also interested in analyzing Twitter data. “In addition to mobility or migration rates, we could evaluate sentiments pro or against migration for different geographic areas. This would help us understand how sentiments change near an international border or in regions with different migration rates and economic conditions.”
I’m very excited to have Ingmar at QCRI so we can explore these ideas further and in the context of humanitarian and development challenges. I’ve been dis-cussing similar research ideas with my colleagues at UN Global Pulse and there may be a real sweet spot for collaboration here, particularly with the recently launched Pulse Lab in Jakarta.” The possibility of collaborating with my collea-gues at Flowminder could also be really interesting given their important study of population movement following the Haiti Earthquake. In conclusion, I fully share the authors’ sentiment when they highlight the fact that it is “more and more important to develop models for data sharing between private com-panies and the academic world, that allow for both protection of users’ privacy & private companies’ interests, as well as reproducibility in scientiﬁc publishing.”
Update (Nov 2): 5,739 aerial images tagged by over 3,000 volunteers. Please keep up the outstanding work!
My colleague Schuyler Erle from Humanitarian OpenStreetMap just launched a very interesting effort in response to Hurricane Sandy. He shared the info below via CrisisMappers earlier this morning, which I’m turning into this blog post to help him recruit more volunteers.
Schuyler and team just got their hands on the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) super high resolution aerial imagery of the disaster affected areas. They’ve imported this imagery into
their Micro-Tasking Server MapMill created by Jeff Warren and are now asking volunteers to help tag the images in terms of the damage depicted in each photo. “The 531 images on the site were taken from the air by CAP over New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts on 31 Oct 2012.”
“For each photo shown, please select ‘ok’ if no building or infrastructure damage is evident; please select ‘not ok’ if some damage or flooding is evident; and please select ‘bad’ if buildings etc. seem to be significantly damaged or underwater. Our *hope* is that the aggregation of the ok/not ok/bad ratings can be used to help guide FEMA resource deployment, or so was indicated might be the case during RELIEF at Camp Roberts this summer.”
A disaster response professional working in the affected areas for FEMA replied (via CrisisMappers) to Schuyler’s efforts to confirm that:
“[G]overnment agencies are working on exploiting satellite imagery for damage assessments and flood extents. The best way that you can help is to help categorize photos using the tool Schuyler provides [...]. CAP imagery is critical to our decision making as they are able to work around some of the limitations with satellite imagery so that we can get an area of where the worst damage is. Due to the size of this event there is an overwhelming amount of imagery coming in, your assistance will be greatly appreciated and truly aid in response efforts. Thank you all for your willingness to help.”
Schuyler notes that volunteers can click on the Grid link from the home page of the Micro-Tasking platform to “zoom in to the coastlines of Massachusetts or New Jersey” and see “judgements about building damages beginning to aggregate in US National Grid cells, which is what FEMA use operationally. Again, the idea and intention is that, as volunteers judge the level of damage evident in each photo, the heat map will change color and indicate at a glance where the worst damage has occurred.” See above screenshot.
Even if you just spend 5 or 10 minutes tagging the imagery, this will still go a long way to supporting FEMA’s response efforts. You can also help by spreading the word and recruiting others to your cause. Thank you!