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Discussion space: Migration 4.0 - Digitalization & New Technologies

Discussion questions

Submitted by Asha Manoharan - 22 July 2020

Role of digitalization in safe, orderly and regular migration

The fourth industrial revolution -- also known as 4IR or Industry 4.0 -- has implications for international migration as well. How does digitalization help or challenge your work on migration and the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)?

Submitted by Welella Negussie - 22 July 2020

Digitalization can support and facilitate the implementation of the GCM greatly. For instance, through the Virtual Counselling project, migrants living in Germany can receive voluntary return and reintegration counselling via online communications tools, from several countries of origin. This digital service for migrants can improve pre-departure counselling and the sustainable reintegration of migrants if they decide to return. This project addresses GCM's Objective 21 "Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission as well as sustainable reintegration".

Submitted by Asha Manoharan - 22 July 2020

Migration forecasting models

Policymakers are turning to innovative data sources and forecasting to model migration patterns. Do you think it is better to have forecasting models with limited accuracy or no forecast at all?

Submitted by Rhea Ravenna Sohst - 22 July 2020

I think the question comes down to what the forecast is meant to be used for? A short-term forecast that is supporting operational planning (e.g. the reception of newly arriving migrants in a specific area) needs to be much more precise than a long-term forecast that has more of a strategic focus. 

Submitted by Jasper Tjaden - 22 July 2020

I think you have to start somewhere. If we do not try, forecasts will never improve. In the grand scheme of things, we are still in the beginning of the process. Data needs to improve and then models will improve. In the meantime, it is important that policy-makers understand the limitations and the uncertainty involved. 

Submitted by Janina Stürner-Siovitz - 10 September 2020

Even with limited data, forecasting can show broad trends in migration movements and serve as a basis and orientation for scenario building to model different responses. What is essential is to include not just traditional actors of migration and displacement governance such as states and international organisations and their data and perspectives into forecasting and scenario building. These processes need also to be opened to local authorities and migrant- and refugee-led organisations from all over the world, with accessible support for defining and generating the necessary data and for participating in forecasting and scenario building processes.

Submitted by Jakub Bijak - 14 September 2020

One key consideration here is to be aware of the limitations of the data and forecasting methods or models. Different approaches to prediction will have different accuracy in various contexts and time horizons, and the same holds for data: for example, digital traces bear promise for early warnings and nowcasting, but will be less useful in longer horizons.

It is crucial to acknowledge that no model - or indeed no data source - can ever be perfect, but if both the forecasters and forecast users acknowledge the limits of prediction, then even imperfect approaches can offer useful insights for operational or contingency planning, or for strategic policy decisions.

Submitted by Jasper Tjaden - 3 November 2020

Benefits of forecasting models

On 5 November 2020, IOM GMDAC is facilitating an EU-level workshop on the 'benefits of migration forecasting tools' as part of the German EU-Council presidency's #migration4.0 series on digitalization and migration management. 

Key questions that are discussed include: 

  1. What are the main benefits of forecasting tools in your country?
  2. What are the main challenges of existing forecasting systems/tools in your country?

The discussion continues here. Please 'Reply' to this message to post your comments, questions, opinions or raise new questions.

Kind regards,
(Data & Impact Analytics Coordinator)

Submitted by Marco Fontana - 6 November 2020

All new activities with potential benefits come with challenges and sometimes they are seen suspiciously. Considering that forecasting is not aimed at knowing the future, but in being aware that the future might set aside different stories than those we expect or we fear, the main benefits will be a more informed strategic/operational planning and less chance to last-minute adjustments. Challenges are at different levels, organizational, communication, capability and not less importantly, accountability. To overcome that, openminded and keen professionals are needed at all those levels to pave the way and make forecasting a common tool rather than a black box to be wary of.   

Submitted by Britta Behrendt - 16 December 2020

On the 10th of december the final session of Migration 4.0 under the german presidency took place virtually. We are happy and proud that we were able to create and shape this virtual discussion with a series of events and partners like IOM, EASO, Frontex, European Commission, Seafar, OECD and ICMPD. At the end of the session we handed over the Migration4.0 process to the incoming portuguese presidency. The recording of the session will be made available soon here. You can find it at "events". 

Take care, stay save and happy holidays to all of you!


Submitted by Joaquim Manuel Silva Almeida Estrela - 22 April 2021

Q. 2. How can we ensure proper digital safeguards and ethical standards are respected?

The EMN conference will reflect on how to ensure proper digital safeguards and ethical standards are respected. In order to initiate the discussion, please share your reflections here, including any approaches which have worked well for you.

Submitted by Niklas Sievers - 29 April 2021

Thank you for raising this very critical aspect.

I think the good news is that we are not starting from 0. The IOM Data Protection Manual and other sources are a substantial start to adapt the digital safeguards and ethical standards to protect all individuals in the digital space.

I am looking forward to learning about the approaches and frameworks that others may want to share with us here.

Submitted by Joaquim Manuel Silva Almeida Estrela - 22 April 2021

Q.1. In your experience, how can digital tools support migration management? Can you share any examples?

The European Migration Network (EMN) Annual Conference, to be held on April 30th, 2021 (online from Lisbon), will bring together European and national stakeholders in the migration field, as well as experts in digital transformation and AI technologies to consider the risks and opportunities for more digitalisation of migration processes and the technologies envisaged for the future. The conference aims to provide participants with an overview of recent policy developments at EU and national level, as well as practical examples and lessons learnt from implementing digitalisation processes. The conference is an opportunity to learn about innovative examples of how digital tools can support migration management, including the use of AI and will also reflect on how to ensure proper digital safeguards and ethical standards are respected.

In advance of the EMN event, you are invited to join this online discussion to share your examples and experiences of digitalization processes, the advantages and the risks. Please share your reflections here on how digital tools can support migration management here, including any examples from your experience. 

Submitted by Niklas Sievers - 29 April 2021

At the IOM GMDAC, we are continuously exploring innovations in the realms of new data sources and analysis methodologies to inform migration policy and research.

For more than 60 use cases, we have summarised and shared our learnings online in our Data Innovation Directory (DID) – a living repository for introducing new data sources such as social media, mobile phone data, satellite imagery, and machine learning to complement traditional migration data.

In our EMN presentation on April 30th, we will also discuss our ongoing AI-related projects, such as conducting sentiment analyses and natural language processing to reflect public sentiments of migrants in five countries during the early stages of the Covid pandemic.

This certainly is a fast-moving topic, and we are excited about the next steps and to learn from each other's experiences.

Thank you so much for initiating this discussion space!





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