Could Big Data help to understand the migration phenomenon? In this exploratory our scientists will try to answer  various questions about migration in Europe and in the world. Several studies are ongoing, including developing economic models of migration, nowcasting migration stocks and flows, identifying perception of migration and effect on the leaving and the receiving communities.

STORY 1: Phases of migration

Phase 1: The Journey

At the moment, information about migration flows and stocks comes from official statistics obtained either from national censuses or from the population registries. Given that migration intrinsically involves various nations, data is often inconsistent across databases, and offers poor time resolution. With the availability of social Big Data, we believe it should be possible to estimate flows and stocks from available data in real time, by building models that map observed measures extracted from these unconventional data sources to official data, i.e. nowcasting stocks and flows. In terms of cultural transitions, language mobility is of interest as well.

We also look at migration phenomena within smaller communities, such as scientific migration. Ongoing work is concentrated on applying migration models to scientific migration to understand causes for the flows observed.

Phase 2: The Stay

Migration might generate cultural changes with both long- and short-term effects on the local and incoming population. Migrant integration is generally measured through indicators related to work market integration or social ties (such as mixed marriages). Again, these statistics are available with low resolution and not for all countries. In our work, we are observing integration and perception on migration through Big Data. For instance, social network sentiment analysis specific to immigration topics allows us to evaluate perception of immigration. Analysis of retail data enables us to understand if immigrants are integrated economically but also if they change their habits during their stay. Scientific data can help us understand how migration benefits both the host countries and the migrants themselves. Through social network analysis we can derive novel integration indices that take into account online activity. The effect of multi-culturality on overall sentiment is also being observed.

Phase 3: The Return

Besides effects on the receiving communities, the source communities may also see effects of migration. One possible scenario is migrants returning to their home countries. has supported the project “Demal Te Niew”, also financed by European Journalism Centre. The project concentrates on returning migrations between Italy and Senegal. The research is based on data journalism, combining data analysis with journalism, and resulted in a documentary (trailer, backstage). This tells the story of 4 people from Senegal who emigrated to Italy and after several years decided to return to Senegal and start their own business. The documentary was featured in Espresso and El Pais, and presented at the Ethnographic Film Festival, Amsterdam and the International Day of Migrants, Dakar.

Method Partner SoBigData RI - Integration
ETH - Language mobility ETHZ  
Polarised user and topic tracking CNR Download
Economic integration UNIPI Download
Epidemic sentiment analysis UNIPI Download
Superdiversity and sentiment UNIPI Download
Data journalism CNR  
Modelling Scientific Migration UNIPI Download
Nowcasting migration stocks & flows UNIPI Download

Gennady Andrienko - FHR
Natalia Andrienko - FHR
Valerio Arnaboldi - CNR
Viola Bachini - CNR
Simone Bertoli - UDA
Tobias Blanke - KCL
Daniele Fadda - CNR
Stefano Gallo - CNR
Fosca Giannotti - UNIPI
Gerhard Gossen - LUH
Valerio Grossi - CNR
Claudio Lucchese - CNR
Andrea Marchetti - CNR
Izabela Moise - ETHZ
Cristina Muntean - CNR
Michela Natilli - CNR
Luca Pappalardo - UNIPI
Andrea Passarella- CNR
Dino Pedreschi - UNIPI
Laura Pollacci - UNIPI
Thomas Risse - LUH
Dominic Rout - USFD
Salvatore Ruggieri - UNIPI
Fabio Saracco - IMT
Alina Sirbu - UNIPI





Alina Sirbu


Living the story in SoBigData Virtual Research Environment
(this service will be available in March 2018)


Short Description: 
macroscopic human flows, social behavior analysis