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EASO’s Research Programme: Using big data from global media to predict migration flows


EASO’s Research Programme seeks to understand the rising numbers of asylum applications in the EU. EASO has developed an “Early Warning and Forecasting System” that allows for the prediction of migration movements for a period of up to three weeks in advance, taking into account internet searches and global media at the countries of origin. As part of that system, the EASO “Push Factor Index” (PFI) is a composite indicator based on big data on global media about types of events that could possibly lead to increased numbers of asylum applications in the EU. EASO sources these data automatically from Gdelt, categorizes the complexity of data into five event categories (conflict, political, economy, governance and social), develops scenarios based on correlations between such events and asylum applications in the past, and issues alerts in cases of onsets of increasing numbers of events that have been deemed in the past to result in increasing asylum applications filed in the EU.


The EASO Research Programme shows how big data and traditional data can complement each other to provide accurate and timely insights into global developments in forced migration. The predictions based on EASO’s “Push Factor Index” (PFI) correlate well with counted arrivals and applications of asylum seekers in the EU, and with the results of other indices such as the Democracy Index and the Fragile State Index (FSI). The PFI, furthermore, provides updates in near to real-time due to the automated sourcing of data from Gdelt. Overall, this project provides an innovative tool producing reliable predictions of forced migration flows, and – since the PFI will be published for free and updated automatically - an accessible tool for migration practitioners in the field to assess, in real-time, the main drivers of forced migration in countries of origin with large numbers of asylum seekers.


(Image: © EASO)

Last modified
26 May 2021
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