“Data for Development” – An Open (Mobile) Data Challenge

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Calling all researchers! “Data for Development” – an unprecedented open data challenge led by global telecommunications company France Telecom-Orange, in partnership with GSMA Development Fund, MIT MediaLab, University of Louvain (UCL), Université de Bouaké, the World Economic Forum and UN Global Pulse – is open for applications.

Orange will make 2.5B anonymized records of 5 million mobile phone users in Côte d’Ivoire available for analysis by research teams from around the world.

The goal is to encourage research teams to use four datasets of anonymized call patterns of Orange’s Ivory Coast subsidiary to help address questions and issues related to society and international development. The aggregated and anonymized datasets are based on the Call Detail Records from Orange’s customer base from December 2011 to April 2012.

Researchers interested in taking on the challenge and participating in the development of the Ivory Coast will have access to the datasets in order to analyze and compare it with other types of data, such as GDP or weather data, to find valuable correlations and insights.

From the perspective of Global Pulse, the potential research which could result from this global challenge could be enormously useful step forward in understanding how mobile phone data can help understand human well-being, or provide early warning of negative trends and emerging vulnerabilities among populations.

In addition, this challenge is a great first stride in the direction of Data Philanthropy. Any valuable insights which are derived from this research could be helpful in further making the case for public and private sector data sharing for global resilience.

Find more details on the competition below, and at Orange’s main Data for Development website:


The overall goal of the D4D challenge is to align with the Orange for Development initiative, which hopes to contribute to the socio-economic development and well being of populations around the world. While the research team has the freedom to chose their own subject as long as it relates to international development, some examples of topics are to identify early signs of epidemics, to be reactive in times of crisis, to measure the threat and impact of natural disasters, and to optimize the usage of certain infrastructures.


Participants interested in utilizing Orange’s datasets must be associated with a public or private research institution.

Accessing the data:

In order to access the data, the research team must submit a research project proposal and an agreement to the Terms and Conditions. Orange and the Committee Chairman will review the proposals and select the projects that are most relevant to the development objectives. The projects that are chosen will be notified and will receive a use-once access key to download the datasets.


The datasets took place in the Ivory Coast over a five-month period. The datasets includes calls and text messages and exchanges between five million users. Orange will release four datasets:

  1. Aggregate communication between cell towers
  2. Mobility traces: fine resolution dataset
  3. Mobility traces: coarse resolution dataset
  4. Communication sub-graphs

To learn more information about the evaluation committee, prizes, and overall process and timeline please visit http://d4d.obs-event.fr/learn-more.

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