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Country/Organization name

Statistics New Zealand

Contact person for this case study




Type of Big Data used

Mobile phone: call/text times and positions 

Project description

To monitor short-term population movements during and after a natural disaster. This analysis was prompted by the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. It focuses on population movements within the region, and to other regions. Our analysis and the results presented in the attached report are a step towards understanding the potential of cell phone data while acknowledging a changing information technology environment.


National or international scope of data source


Public/private source

Data access framework

Payment for data

Data access

Domain and use

Population and migration

All statistical results from our initial investigations are published in the report. The report does not cover access and supply of data.

Degree of progress in use of the Big Data source

Tools and methods for processing

Statistics NZ undertook this analysis with the cooperation of contributing telecommunication companies, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and other responding agencies. Patterns of short-term movements over time were derived by observing changes in the percentage of Christchurch cellphones that initiated calls in an area within a 24-hour period and observing new locations of Christchurch cellphones.

Privacy and confidentiality issues

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