3 institutions use data to support fight against COVID-19

Three institutions have joined forces to use telecommunication data to support government’s interventions against COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), Vodafone Ghana, and the Flowminder Foundation, are using estimates on human mobility extracted from mobile phone data to identify the extent to which restrictions of movement put in place by the government are being adhered to, across the country.

A joint statement issued in Accra on Friday, said this was expected to help the government understand how effective its restrictions had been and enable it to plan subsequent interventions.

It said Flowminder and the GSS had utilised aggregated telecommunications data from Vodafone Ghana, to provide the government with analysis comparing changes in Vodafone subscribers’ mobility patterns since travel restrictions started. 

“The data, collected by Vodafone Ghana, is anonymised before it is analysed, removing any personal information to protect individuals’ identities. The data are then looked at as a whole to see the big picture of how lots of people are moving, rather than individuals’ activities” it said.

Per the statement, various analyses had been produced, including a focus on understanding movements out of Greater Accra and Ashanti over the last few days and shared with Ghana Health Service to inform their approach to planning interventions.

“The data can be produced in a timely manner through methods which fully preserve the privacy of all mobile subscribers” it said 

Commenting on the collaboration, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, the Government Statistician said understanding changes in mobility patterns were key to establishing whether the current restrictions could contain the spread of the disease, and whether more, or different, interventions should be put in place in the coming days or weeks. 

“This work shows the power of data and is a good example of how it can benefit everyone”, he said.

In the view of Patricia Obo-Nai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana, this milestone put Ghana in a unique position as a trailblazer across Africa and offers an undeniable proof why data from mobile networks could become a force for the good of society.

According to Tracey Li, Data Scientist at Flowminder, through the comparison of data on pre-and post-travel restrictions, it is easy to assess how the regulations have affected people’s behaviour.” 

Alongside this analysis, the statement said GSS with support from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and others firms had developed a COVID-19 monitoring dashboard that showcases data on the number of confirmed cases, the towns affected and the regions of the country with the most vulnerable people.

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