Global collaboration on human migration launches digital hub

The GovLab at NYU Tandon joins European Commission and the International Organization for Migration to launch an online platform for the Big Data for Migration (BD4M) Alliance

BROOKLYN, New York, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission joined forces with The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering to launch an online home for the Big Data for Migration (BD4M) Alliance, the first-ever global network dedicated to facilitating responsible data innovation and collaboration for informed decision making on migration and human mobility.

BD4M logo.We live in a fast-moving world where a huge amount of data is being generated by the private sector but public-private data partnerships still remain limited. The BD4M, convened in 2018 by the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) and the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), seeks to foster more cooperation in this area by connecting stakeholders and leveraging non-traditional data sources to improve understanding.

The new BD4M web page,, hosted by the GovLab, serves as a hub for the Alliance’s activities. It aims to inform stakeholders about the BD4M members, its objectives, ongoing projects, upcoming events and opportunities for collaboration.

To facilitate access to knowledge about how data innovation has contributed to informing migration policy and programs, for example, the BD4M recently launched the Data Innovation Directory, which features examples of applications of new data sources and methodologies in the field of migration and human mobility.

The BD4M is open to members of international organizations, NGOs, the private sector, researchers and individual experts. In its partnership with The GovLab, the BD4M has helped identify a set of priority questions on migration that new data sources could contribute to answering. These questions were formulated by experts and validated through a public voting campaign as part of The 100 Questions Initiative.

The BD4M will also help build data innovation capacities in various regions around the world and support research and knowledge management. As a next step, it will host a private-sector dialogue series to discuss ways for setting up the collaborative frameworks to make use of new data sources for migration.

“Data holds significant promise for improving the global response to migration. In order to maximize the value of our big data era, the BD4M will focus on defining and finding answers to the core questions that could transform migration policymaking for the better,” said Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer at The GovLab.

“Bringing together the private sector, the scientific community, policymakers and practitioners around migration has a direct effect both in channeling and steering data innovation efforts to address pressing societal questions,” said Michele Vespe of European Commission, Joint Research Centre. “Furthermore, we observed that this dialogue, once initiated, has the potential to stimulate solutions to questions that were previously considered unthinkable even to ask.”

“The progress made in the conversation about data innovation for migration statistics in the past few years has been impressive,” said Marzia Rango of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC). “We went from a widespread skepticism to a growing collective realization that we should embrace innovation, along with the opportunities and challenges this presents. The BD4M can help facilitate the cross-sectoral collaborations and new frameworks needed for this to happen. The online platform launched today will be an important tool to this end.”

IOM wishes to thank the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Directorate of Political Affairs, Human Security Division, Switzerland for supporting the development of the BD4M online platform.

About The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering

The Governance Lab's mission is to improve people's lives by changing the way we govern. Our goal at The GovLab is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments—and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. For more information, visit


About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, one of the country’s foremost private research universities, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit


About the International Organization for Migration and Global Migration Data Analysis Centre

Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 173 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. Since 2015, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin aims to contribute to IOM´s overall response to growing calls for action to improve data on international migration globally. GMDAC works to a) Strengthen the global evidence base on migration, b) Enhance IOM’s efforts to develop the data capacities of states and other key stakeholders, and c) Support evidence-based programmes, policies and communications on migration.


About the Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography of the European Commission

The Joint Research Centre is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. Our researchers provide EU and national authorities with solid facts and independent support to help tackle the big challenges facing our societies today. We create, manage and make sense of knowledge, delivering the best scientific evidence and innovative tools for the policies that matter to citizens, businesses and governments. The Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography provides independent scientific evidence for EU policy-making in migration and demography related fields and launched the Big Data 4 Migration Alliance in 2018 jointly with the GMDAC.