New data sources help tackle COVID-19 and unlock sustainable development
Heavy traffic, old public transportation vehicles and unregulated streets make a daily commute in Moldova’s capital Chisinau difficult. Bus stops and schedules are based on assessments conducted some 30 years ago. At the same time, private sector companies and individuals are producing huge amounts of high-quality and big data that could be used to address these multidimensional issues – and respond to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data-driven and evidence-based decision making, as well as local knowledge on data use, are key to unlocking a sustainable development trajectory in Moldova.
In 2019, UNDP partnered with the European Space Agency, Orange Moldova, Premier Energy, Chisinau City Hall and the National Bureau of Statistics to build a collaborative data platform that integrates different types of new georeferenced data, including mobility data, electricity consumption data, land use data, population data and thick data capturing people’s perceptions of emerging development challenges. Through this joint effort, the Moldovan Government has access to exhaustive information on land coverage, population density and mobility behaviour, which helps optimize infrastructure and public services.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform helped develop tailored containment efforts by mapping new mobility radiuses and analysing the percentage of people in self-quarantine through a ‘Stay-at-Home indicator’, based on telecom data. The platform, through further collaboration with the European Space Agency, also enabled exploration of COVID-19 impact on air pollution and agricultural practices, using mobility data. Moving forward, the platform will help assess impacts on poverty, food security and energy, and support forecasting to prevent future shocks, including additional COVID-19 waves.