Tell us about Flowminder
Flowminder is a non-profit organization founded by a number of academics who pioneered using mobile and satellite data to support the SDGs. It started as academic research projects back in 2009-2010 but has evolved into policy and operational support for the UN and development agencies. Flowminder was founded to operationalize these results. We’re now a multidisciplinary team from different universities in Sweden, UK, Switzerland, US and China, working with large development actors such as the Gates Foundation, World Bank, UN World Food Programme and UN OCHA.
That the name is similar to Hans Rosling’s Gapminder is not a coincidence: the other co-founders come from the same institute as Hans Rosling at Karolinska Institutet and used to work at Gapminder. Hans Rosling has been very supportive with connections and advice.
What do you hope to achieve with your research?
To achieve the SDGs, correct measurement and assessment is crucial. New data sources offer radical potential for timely high-resolution insights that have not been previously available. It also offers a whole new mode for private sector organizations to engage in and support sustainable development. At the same time, these opportunities bring a number of challenges relating to methodology, privacy and regulation that we’re helping to address while at the same time doing operational work. As part of our public good mission we publish all our processed data and methods at www.flowminder.org.
Why did you choose SDG number 1?
Our work covers a wide range of topics from epidemics to climate adaptation to disaster response, and thus connects to multiple SDGs. As an economist, SDG number 1 comes top of mind for me. Not only because ending poverty is a goal in itself, but also because poverty has been proven to be the key indicator of vulnerability to other public health risks such as diseases and disasters. We notice this because our poverty maps and analyses are in increasing demand from ministries of health.