May 3, 2022 by Joe Nallen

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, CrisisReady turned to mobility data gathered from Meta (formerly Facebook) to generate maps highlighting trends in refugee flows across the western border of the country.

In an article published in Fortune magazine, CrisisReady co-Director Andrew Schroeder explains how these maps have helped international agencies, such as UNICEF, The World Bank, and the International Rescue Committee, make decisions on the educational services provided to refugee children and to how to inform understanding of municipal investments for refugees.

The article states that “[s]ince the first days of Putin’s bombing campaign, various international teams have been tapping publicly available mobility data to map the refugee crisis and coordinate an effective response. They believe the data can reveal where war-torn Ukrainians are now, and even where they’re heading. In the right hands, the data can provide local authorities the intel they need to get essential aid—medical care, food, and shelter—to the right place at the right time.”

Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Schroeder notes that despite the obstacles surrounding the usages of human mobility data, the war in Ukraine demonstrates its potential to provide support to communities struck by crises and, ultimately, to help save lives. “Right at the February 24 mark, when the invasion happened, day one, we could do an analysis using data from Meta,” Schroeder says. “It has its limits. Lots of other data would give a more rich picture, but we were able to get a valuable signal instantly.”

Featured Image: Evacuees stand under a destroyed bridge as they flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

Join Our Newsletter