Migrant mobility flows characterized with digital data

Mattia Mazzoli1, Boris Diechtiareff2, Antònia Tugores1, Willian Wives2, Natalia Adler3, Pere Colet1 and José J. Ramasco1

1Instituto de Física Interdisciplinar y Sistemas Complejos IFISC (CSIC-UIB), Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
2United Nations Children's Fund -UNICEF Brasìlia, DF 70750-521, Brazil.
3United Nations Children's Fund -UNICEF UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA.

(August 2019)

Monitoring migration flows is crucial to respond to humanitarian crisis and to design efficient policies. This information usually comes from surveys and border controls, but timely accessibility and methodological concerns reduce its usefulness. Here, we propose a method to detect migration flows worldwide using geolocated Twitter data. We focus on the migration crisis in Venezuela and show that the calculated flows are consistent with official statistics at country level. Our method is versatile and far-reaching, as it can be used to study different features of migration as preferred routes, settlement areas, mobility through several countries, spatial integration in cities, etc. It provides finer geographical and temporal resolutions, allowing the exploration of issues not contemplated in official records. It is our hope that these new sources of information can complement official ones, helping authorities and humanitarian organizations to better assess when and where to intervene on the ground.