UNICEF announces collaboration with telecommunications giant in drive for ‘Big Data’ for social good

News Hour:

UNICEF and Telefonica, one of the largest European telecommunication companies, will work together on UNICEF’s “Magic Box” initiative – an innovative use of data to inform and plan humanitarian responses to emergency situations.

Magic Box collects real-time anonymized data such as mobile phone usage from private sector companies to better understand human activity. An analysis of the data is then used to improve the management of humanitarian disasters – providing alarms, and supporting critical response and recovery to monitor natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides or floods.

The partnership involves UNICEF Innovation working with Telefónica’s specialist big data unit, LUCA, to accelerate the use of data science and engineering in developing real-time and life-saving humanitarian data analytics.

“Magic Box is a way to bring together partners like Telefonica and others from the private sector, who want to use their data as a public social good. We collaborate with them to build a product that allows us to have real-time insights to improve our work for children around the world.

“To reach the hardest-to-reach children, we need to know where, when and how to act, and we can do this if we have forward-thinking partnerships in place, now,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, Director, Office of Innovation, UNICEF.

Telefónica joins other companies including Google, Amadeus and IBM to enable the growth of Big Data for Social Good in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.


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