Development environment


Filling the data gaps: innovation at IDMC

In 2016, we monitored conflict-induced displacement in 56 countries and territories and obtained data on of displacement associated with disasters in 118 countries and territories.

Despite our best efforts, however, we still do not cover all situations of displacement. At present, we are only able to verify and report on what is inside the blue inner circle in the image below:


20170517 innovation image


Given the importance of accurate information on new displacements and the evolution of situations over time, we have begun to incorporate new approaches to our monitoring. By using these tools, we aim to:

  • detect more displacements and increase the coverage of our monitoring by analysing more data from more sources
  • verify our estimates by comparing figures based on different sources and types of data and means of analysis, for example by comparing a modelled estimate with one based on surveys or IDP registrations
  • obtain more displacement data disaggregated by IDPs’ location, age, sex and other characteristics
  • capture and analyse more time-series data.

As a result, we will be able to paint a more complete and three-dimensional picture of internal displacement and reveal how situations evolve over time.

We have already adopted a series of innovative tools and technologies to estimate future displacement risks, monitor displacement in near real-time and fill current data and monitoring gaps. In the coming years, we will work with partners and use a range of techniques to detect displacement and estimate patterns from proxy indicators when no direct observational data is available.

For example, by analysing satellite imagery, IDMC will estimate the scale of displacement based on the number of homes destroyed or the extent of land inundated by the construction of a dam. In other cases, IDMC may detect the scale, scope, patterns and duration of displacement based on analysis of anonymous mobile phone or (inter)national financial transaction data.


In January 2016, together with the UN we launched IDETECT, the “Internal Displacement Event Tagging Extraction and Clustering Tool” challenge, to analyse “big data” to detect disaster and conflict-related displacement reported in the news and on social media. IDETECT not only represents a way to explore how innovative technologies can enhance and improve data collection but also a significant shift in the way we approach projects. The Unite Ideas platform has brought together data scientists and innovators from around the world in a crowdsourcing approach that will allow us to evaluate and compare several potential solutions rather than just one or two. In addition, the open source code will be accessible to everyone as a public good.




Latest from IDMC

Reducing displacement risk in the Greater Horn of Africa
26 September 2017 , Somalia, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti , Publication
Annual Report 2016
05 September 2017 , Publication