IOM and Partners launch Handbook on Data Innovation and Foresight for Migration Policy

Photo credit: IOM

Brussels, Belgium – Climate change, health risks, and rapidly-evolving emergencies affect migration and human mobility. These challenges increase the need for timely data and information, including migration nowcasting and foresight. The use of non-traditional data sources and forward-looking methods are crucial for governments and partners to develop adequate actions and responses.  

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Global Data Institute (GDI), in partnership with the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M), recognizes the challenges and today in Brussels released a “Harnessing Data Innovation for Migration Policy: A Handbook for Practitioners.” The launch of the Handbook took place within the framework of the workshop on the Future of Human Mobility: Forward-looking analysis in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, which convened BD4M partners, governments, academia and UN experts for an open and targeted discussion. 

“The growing digitalization of human activities means that vast amounts of data available today are generated through mobile phones, satellites, social media. Combined with innovative analytical methods such as machine learning, these novel data sources can augment existing evidence on migration-related topics, if used ethically and responsibly,” said Marzia Rango, co-editor of the Handbook. “Today IOM and its partners launched a handbook that provide policy makers and other stakeholders a way to explore and tap into these data sources to answer some of the most pressing questions about migration.” 

 “This publication provides a practical roadmap for anyone seeking to leverage innovative methods and data sources for insights to human mobility, and data that informs action and policy,” emphasized Koko Warner, Director of IOM's Global Data Institute. 

The Handbook is innovative in several ways: 

  • It sheds light on the solutions that big data and machine learning can bring to the analysis of migration, providing methods to estimate numbers and movements of migrants around the world, their socio-economic characteristics and engagement of migrant communities for development purposes. 

  • It shows how new data sources and innovative methods for migration forecasting can help ensure balanced narrative on migration and be leveraged to fill migration data gaps in a policy relevant and ethical manner.  

  • The guide provides a tool for policymakers and practitioners seeking to gain a better understanding of innovative methods and data sources to address complex migration-related issues. 

Read the full publication, Harnessing Data Innovation for Migration Policy: A Handbook for Practitioners, here

The BD4M alliance is a joint initiative among IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre at the GDI, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, and The GovLab. The Alliance seeks to accelerate responsible data innovation and build partnerships to improve the evidence base on migration and human mobility and its use for policy making. Learn more: 


For more information, please contact: 

Damien Jusselme, Data Science and Analytics Unit Lead, IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Email:

Andi Armia Pratiwi, Digital Communications Officer, IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Email: