Belgrade, September, 2020 - PopInsight, InfostudData, Bootstrappers and Geoanalitičari (Geoanalysts) are the winning teams of the “Depopulation Data Challenge”. The goal of the Challenge was to combine, in an innovative way, traditional and alternative data sets and expertise of academic researchers, with tools based on modern technologies, in order to better understand the process of population decline in Serbia. The challenge was organized by the UNDP Serbia Accelerator Lab in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Four winning solutions will contribute to gaining new insights about in-country migrations, economic migrations, out-migration and scientific diaspora, as well as spatial aspects of depopulation, which will shed light on this phenomenon from different angles and enable the creation of new proposals for formulating demographic policies.

The PopInsight team, made up of researchers from the BioSense Institute in Novi Sad, will use mobile, satellite and open data in order to better understand state-level depopulation trends. This team will focus on in-country distribution of population and migrations, based on analysis of activity, connectivity and mobility of people in Serbia reflected through telecom data together with data from different sources. The results of their research will be easily accessible through a web portal, which will include interactive maps, dashboards, and customized reports.

The InfostudData team, from the Subotica company Infostud, will use data on job advertisements, the structure of jobs offered, as well as the number and characteristics of people from different local communities in Serbia who are looking for employment abroad. By analysing these data, the team will find out how many people apply for a job abroad from year to year, where the jobs they are applying for are located, as well as how many applications for scholarships and internships abroad are made each year. Based on these data, one could gain insight into which industries are more and which are less represented in job advertisements, and thus also to which locations Serbian population most often emigrates.

The Bootstrappers team, made up of researchers from the Harvard University and the Brookings Institution, will analyse emigration trends, including industry breakdown of emigrants, by collecting Facebook Ad data. In addition, they will explore the connection between the number of emigrants and scientific research output of domestic scientists, using scientific publishing data through the Scopus library, a huge multidisciplinary abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. The team will create a website with an interactive map, enabling visitors to see where the form Serbia people are moving to, as well as to filter data and create custom visualizations.

The Geoanalitičari (Geoanalysts) team, which consists of researchers from the Geographical Institute "Jovan Cvijić" SASA, will monitor migrations within Serbia, declining population trends in certain areas, as well as population growth in urban areas, by monitoring satellite data, data on Night-time Lights, power networks and OpenStreetMaps. Results obtained on the basis of analyses that rely on space- and time-sensitive data will be far more precise with an expressive dynamic component, which will follow the trend and intensity of depopulation and its spatial distribution. The goal of this team is to create a permanent networking infrastructure of different data sets that will serve as a unique system for monitoring the depopulation process in Serbia.

The “Depopulation Data Challenge” received 50 applications in total. Eleven teams made it to the final stage, which included a detailed elaboration of the initial idea. The four winners were chosen by a Jury consisting of representatives of the Office of the Minister without portfolio responsible for demography and population policy, Institute of Social Sciences, Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, UNFPA and UNDP.

Due to many quality proposals, the organizers have increased the initial budget for the implementation of the solutions from $40,000 to $54,499. The teams have three months to put their ideas into practice.

Find out more about depopulation in Serbia here.

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