Utilising mobile big data and AI to benefit society

Insights from the Covid-19 response

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on health and economies across the globe. It has also been a watershed moment for mobile big data (MBD) analytics, one which has brought MNOs, governments and international agencies together to develop effective responses. Multiple use cases illustrate how analytics products can help inform critical decisions, shape intervention plans and assess the impact of actions, whilst respecting data privacy. The full report presents MBD implementations from over 40 countries; recommendations based upon detailed case studies; and outlines the potential for MBD analytics to tackle a broader set of global challenges in local settings in the long term.

Watch the webinar to hear from in-country stakeholders: DRC & Benin

Watch the webinar to hear from in-country stakeholders: Rwanda

Global Task Force

21 mobile operators accounting for over 2 billion connections in more than 100 countries.

Advisory Panel

Global thought leaders from UN agencies, international organisations and partners, providing on-the-ground insights and needs.

Think globally

A common framework for international collaboration on technology, policy, ecosystem and business models — driving scale

Act locally

Market-shaping and mobile big data analytics and AI implementations that enable effective decision-making and greater impact.

COVID-19 Response Examples

Some examples of government response measures to the Covid-19 outbreak.


Lockdowns and curfews have been deployed to limit disease spread through population movement, and governments sought a way to gauge the impact of their interventions.

Medical staff

The changing scale and location of outbreaks have required medical staff to test, treat and vaccinate; requiring data and predictions for optimal deployment of staff.

Test kits

Many millions of test kits are needed to identify who has contracted the virus, and where the disease is prevalent. Data and forecasting is used to plan supplies and distribute them optimally.

Social support

The pandemic has affected the health, wealth and well-being of many people. Locations of vulnerable communities have been derived from data so that support can be targeted.


Travel has been significantly disrupted by the pandemic and interventions deployed to contain it. Mobility data is key to understanding changes in travel patterns and transport usage.

Exit strategy

Decisions concerning when and how to lift lockdowns have to be made carefully. Mobility data can help to model and monitor the effectiveness of each lockdown exit strategy.

WASH facilities

Hygiene plays an important part in limiting the spread of the virus. Sanitation, population and mobility data can help to identify where additional WASH facilities may be needed.

Hospital beds

Demand for hospital beds grows rapidly during outbreaks. Data and predictions help health experts plan where hospital beds are required, and whether additional capacity is needed.

Public advice

Public health messages play an important role in encouraging people to limit their exposure to the virus. Insights from data can help target public health messages more effectively.

Financial support

Many individuals and businesses have been unable to work during the pandemic. Data analysis can identify economically impacted areas so that financial support can be targeted.

Case studies

The GSMA AI4I Covid-19 response programme facilitated in-country collaborations between multiple demand-side and supply-side partners in four primary countries – the DRC, Benin, Burkina Faso and Rwanda. The GSMA’s approach was to co-create solutions, using the AI4I engagement process, to build up a base of local expertise and understanding of the benefit of data-driven tools.


GSMA knowledge sharing and local stakeholder engagement developed an illustrative dashboard with population mobility and Covid-19 risk modelling, used to demonstrate the potential value of MBD analytics to government agencies and development partners

Burkina Faso

Improving the Covid-19 response and preparation for other disease outbreaks

The creation of a dynamic mobile big data analytics driven dashboard for the MoH’s Centre of Health Emergency Response Operations (CORUS) to provide insights on population mobility patterns for decision-making and to help to meet the challenge of Covid-19 and other disease outbreaks.


MBD insights provided health authorities insights into how movement patterns changed in response to government measures and other factors, such as economic pressures.


Mobile Big Data analytics provided insights into transport usage, allowing the government to redirect public transport to routes which risked being too crowded to allow for social distancing; and prioritise road infrastructure improvements, by identifying sections of road with high demand and slow travel times.

Opportunities and solutions

The mobile big data analytics framework opens up a world of opportunity

To deliver local solutions to global challenges

Set of 17 colorful icons, each representing one of the united nations' sustainable development goals, such as no poverty, quality education, and climate action.


Download the full report
AI4I Digital Toolkit

Find out more about AI for Impact

This initiative was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and supported by the GSMA and its members.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies.