Refugee Crisis And The EU: Will Big Data/Analytics Provide Some Answers?

Refugee crisis and EU: will Big Data/Analytics provide some of the answers?


- Germany is preparing for about 800,000 asylum seekers to make applications this year (four times as many as in 2014)

- UNHCR: up to 3,000 refugees, migrants expected everyday in Macedonia

- 2,373 migrants have died in the Mediterranean this year

Numbers do not lie - refugees from African countries and Middle East are entering the Old Continent in vast amounts as we speak, with the EU supposedly facing a humanitarian crisis of ‘biblical propotions‘.

Pictures of full trains, boats and people in refugee camps in Europe are on all the news channels, and there are a lot of controversies around this topic discussed everywhere – including the upper echelons of the EU, voices of leaders like Merkel, Hollande and others calling for "fair" distribution of migrants among EU member states.

Some countries are somehow approving of the refugees influx, others express clear disagreement and call for breaking up the smugglers networks and addressing this issue thoroughly.

"Europe cannot just get emotional,"(Matteo Renzi, Italian PM)

"Today it's everyone's problem and we appeal for people to be rational. The emergency can only be managed with a strategic vision,"(Matteo Renzi, Italian PM)

"German thoroughness is great, but what we need now is German flexibility,"(Angela Merkel, German Chancellor)

I was wondering if the realm of Analytics/Big Data might be of systemic assistance here – what I am getting at is the move from assumptions/emotions/guesswork to clear vision/fact based decisions and rational thinking.

It is obvious that the situation needs to be dealt with effectively, series of EU talks and summits are up and coming – but the question still remains: how do the leaders want to come up with a solution (preferably in a united manner).

Currently we know approximately how many migrants are coming from which countries (Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, etc.) – but can we look at the historical track record so far and predict more accurately how many more refugees can we expect over coming weeks into which points of entry? Can military, police and humanitarian efforts be more coordinated and pre-emptive based on this?

We need a thorough analysis of all the motivational factors of refugees to flee their homeland, broken down into specific countries, regions, demography, culture, conflicts and religious differences – beyond just two broad categories of war/economically determined migration.

How about worsening weather conditions in Europe in autumn and its potential impact? Can we analyze these more in detail and make some further predictions? There are advanced technologies like analytical geospatial maps available – is EU effectively utilizing these to track the smugglers base camps, activities and next movements? Certainly there is a need for anti-trafficking cooperation and development policies for Africa, Middle East and the Balkans orchestrated together with EU.

This could perhaps be a great opportunity for a concerted effort of Big Blue (IBM), SAP, Big Four (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC) and other Analytics/Big Data purveyors to come up with comprehensive capabilities to create holistic reports and list of recommendations based on existing internal and external data sets for EU leaders who then could start making fact-based decisions to deal with this crisis.

Once they have more solid refugee forecasts for coming weeks and months together with solid reasoning and migrations motivation factors – only then can create comprehensive list of measures which in turn can be used to agree on quota between EU members and also perhaps having some tangible means to hold refugee home countries accountable as well?

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