Three lessons from FlowKit, Flowminder’s GSMA-funded innovation project

The GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Fund aims to promote innovation in the use of mobile technology to address humanitarian challenges. The first round of the Fund focused on providing support to help to test or scale innovative ideas which support responses to humanitarian emergencies including natural hazard disasters. Grantees were provided with funding and technical support to test innovative solutions and catalyse ideas to improve and transform institutional systems. This blog post shares three key lessons from our project with Flowminder to support the development of their FlowKit software. 

Flowminder are the global leaders in mobile operator data analytics for development and humanitarian purposes. The GSMA provided grant funding to Flowminder to develop FlowKit, an open-source software version of their proprietary system that uses mobile operator, geospatial and survey data to support emergency response decision making following a disaster. 

FlowKit allows for the safe and secure processing and analysis of Call Detail Record data (CDR) and facilitates the production of de-identified CDR aggregates that can be used to estimate population movements and characteristics. This enables humanitarian and development actors to approximate population movements before, during and after disasters, to understand where best to target relief efforts.  

Three key lessons 

  1. FlowKit reduces the time it takes to provide first responders with key mobility data after a disaster 

FlowKit’s automated data retrieval and analysis means that up-to-date mobility and displacement datasets are available more quickly after a crisis occurs. The grant project demonstrated that FlowKit can reduce the time taken to produce actionable information from an average of eleven days to less than four. This can help first responders’ direct assistance to those who need it most with greater accuracy and efficiency than previously possible. 

  1. FlowKit built on Flowminder’s experience of forming strong collaborative partnerships 

Data security and privacy are the biggest issues facing MNOs when partnering with humanitarian and development organisations. Flowminder worked closely with partners Digicel Haiti and Vodafone Ghana to ensure FlowKit would be trusted from a technical and data privacy perspective. The secure platform keeps a record of all user interaction to ensure confidential and compliant use and by running behind an MNO’s firewall it is inherently compliant with GSMA’s data privacy guidelines. By supporting capacity building Flowminder also made sure that their partners have the knowledge and resources to make the most of the data and analytical tools available. 

  1. FlowKit is helping overcome key barriers to using CDR data in emergency response planning 

Open-source licencing can reduce costs and encourage trial and uptake by the wider humanitarian and mobile sectors. FlowKit is provided free of charge along with comprehensive instructions specially designed so that MNOs can install, configure and trial the analytics tools independently. The software can be used across a variety of network systems and databases and can be modified as needed for different uses. This means that any organisation interested in using CDR data for response planning can try out the software without committing unnecessary resources.  

The future 

Interest in the software has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with FlowKit successfully demonstrating the potential reach and impact of the solution to key decision makers involved in COVID-19 responses. FlowKit has now been installed by MNO partners in Ghana, Haiti, Namibia, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Read about these lessons in more depth and all of the outcomes of our GSMA-funded project with Flowminder by downloading the grant case study and by reading our report on all of the round one grantees. Find out about all of our Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Fund grantees by downloading the M4H Innovation Fund Portfolio (2017-2022). To learn more about Flowminder, please visit their website.

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