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Table 1 Overview of measurement approaches

From: Measuring migration 2.0: a review of digital data sources

# Data source Provider Main approach to inferring migration stocks or flows Example of applications to migration studies
1 Mobile phones [CDR; GPS; Android location history] Private sector companies Tracks location of individuals via phone signals through cell phone towers or by storing GPS location through the smartphone operating system Displacement following disasters; internal mobility at local level
2 Social media [e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn] Private sector companies Measure changes in users' self-reported location in their profiles or posts and the location of IP addresses from where users log into their accounts Estimating international migration stocks and flows; Estimating changes in friendship networks, monitoring migration-related communication in social media groups
3 Online search data [Google, Bing] Private sector companies Measuring popularity of migration-relevant search terms online Forecasting potential bilateral migration flows
4 IP addresses [email logins] Private sector companies Track locations from which users access their email account Estimating international migration flows
5 Bibliographic data Companies; Academic bodies Tracking changes in the publicly available institutional affiliation of professionals (i.e. academics) Measuring international migration of academics
6 Remote sensing [satellite and drone images] Government; private sector companies Measuring changes in physical features (rooftops, settlements, light emission at night) in defined locations on maps recorded via satellite or drone imagery Measuring rapid changes in sizes of settlements and refugee camps; border management; targeting humanitarian assistance
7 Air passenger data Private sector companies Measuring discrepancies in the volume between flight arrivals and returns as a proxy for immigration Estimating international migration flows
8 Online news platforms Private sector companies; research institutes Compiling information on mentions of (past or potential) migration events in news media Estimating internal displacement; estimating forced migration, estimating migrant fatalities