Mobility insights

A real-time big data & artificial intelligence platform to allow policy makers and citizens to understand the levels of physical distancing, movement and mobility at the village level

Mother and baby daughter
UNICEF/2020/Arimacs Wilander
09 October 2020

“My wish is for the COVID to end, my husband to be able to get work as usual again, his salary can get back to normal.”


Standing in front of a closed health clinic with her 9-month old daughter, an Indonesian mother gives voice to the wish of millions across the world.

Due to Indonesia’s swelling rate of infections and deaths (220,000 and 8,841, respectively) public facilities across the country have closed, jeopardizing the health and education of millions of children.

Like other governments, Indonesia must rely for now on non-medical interventions, including large-scale restrictions on movement and closure of workplaces and public spaces. But decision-makers have little means of gauging the impact of these measures, since traditional means of data-gathering, such as household surveys, are on hold.

With lives and livelihoods at stake, it is critical that policymakers have the best possible evidence available when making hard decisions, especially in relation to closures, restrictions and saving lives.

Tracking mobility

UNICEF Indonesia responded to this need through a series of strategic partnerships and  investments in advanced technology developed to gather reliable data quickly. Working with specialists at  UNICEF Headquarters and Regional Office, and in-country partners at the University of Indonesia (UI), the ‘technology for development’ team at UNICEF Indonesia developed a platform (Mobility Insights) that permits policy-makers and citizens to measure the impact of physical distancing, movement and mobility on the spread of COVID-19.

Another partner, Cuebiq, specializes in tracking locations using anonymous mobile phone data. Using this technology UNICEF was able to calculate how much time each user spends at home and analyze the data to estimate compliance with COVID-related restrictions on mobility.

Using this method, UNICEF and UI found that:

If just 1 per cent more people stayed at home, the daily number of cases would drop by 500, but if less than half the population stays at home, each 1 per cent decrease in that proportion will result in 100 new cases per day.

Screenshot from the mobility insight dashboard
Screenshot from the Mobility Insight dashboard showing the proportion of people that stayed at home in villages across the capital region, Jakarta.

Mobility and Poverty

Nearly 25 million Indonesians live in poverty. Matching this information with the mobility data revealed that areas with highest levels of poverty also have the lowest observed levels of physical distancing.

The data produced by Mobility Insights, shows a clear link between restrictions on social movement, COVID-19 transmission rates and poverty. Based on this data, in mid-September the governor of DKI Jakarta re-imposed large-scale restrictions in an effort save the most lives at the lowest possible economic and social cost and prevent the pandemic from devastating Jakarta’s poorest families. Curbing transmission by restricting social movement is a key first step toward the eventual re-opening of health clinics, schools and other facilities serving Indonesia’s children.

UNICEF Indonesia wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the key donors that have contributed to this work, including Nokia through the Finnish Committee for UNICEF and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.