UROP Openings

Have a UROP opening you would like to submit?

Please fill out the form.

Submit your UROP opening

Call Detail Record Analysis : Covid-19 Response in Africa




11: Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Supervisor:

Sarah Williams

Faculty email:


Apply by:

May 15, 2020


Sarah Williams, sew@mit.edu, 267-253-4124

Project Description

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa face tough choices in COVID19 policy response. They have scarce resources but are under intense pressure to balance pandemic control with ensuring people have basic necessities -- while also staving off violence and political instability among distrustful publics. Until a vaccine is widely available, the primary way to combat COVID-19 is encouraging cooperation with non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Our research provides African governments with evidence on how to increase voluntary cooperation with NPIs. Combining mobility data obtained from cell phone records, spatial mapping, and representative survey data, we provide fine-grained information and community-specific strategies to government decision makers and humanitarian responders. With this information they can rapidly target resources and appeals to the people and neighborhoods that need them most, thereby building trust and cooperation with NPIs that are crucial for international efforts to manage the pandemic globally. We focus on Freetown, Sierra Leone where we have already gotten the support of the Mayor and have a license agreement with the telecom companies to acquire Call Detail Records phone record data. We have also performed the first of three waves of surveys to address the response in informal communities. 1 - Analyze Call Detail Record (cell phone data)- this is big data so it will need big data analytical strategies. 2 - Development of Literature review of Call Detail Record Analysis. 3 - Analyze the Survey 4 - Coordinate with Freetown Mayor’s Response Team


Experience with Big Data Working with setting up system to query big data such as Hadoop. Familiar with Statistics packages such as R