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News article15 November 2022Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs

National conference EMN Georgia and EMN Estonia: Advancing data-driven decision-making in migration management

EMN Georgia and EMN Estonia organised a national conference on 20 September 2022 on advancing data-driven decision-making in migration management. The hybrid event explored ways data can be used to enrich decision-making processes in contemporary migration management and how to facilitate the development of new technologies and approaches in the field.

Tamar Tkeshelashvili (first Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia) opened the event emphasising that modern technologies are an essential tool for an accurate understanding and effective management of migration processes, stressing that these new technologies should only be used in the presence of thorough knowledge, which allows for their correct use and minimises their risks.

Veiko Kommusaar (undersecretary for internal security migration and public order at the ministry of interior in Estonia) followed by addressing new technological solutions and approaches to better manage cross-border mobility and facilitate labour mobility. An example is the Start-up visa which helps non-EU founders grow their start-ups in Estonia. With the increase of cross-border mobility observed in recent decades, universal and easily adaptable information technology solutions must be implemented to handle situations such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, bearing in mind that the collection and exchange of information must be accurate, reliable and always up to date.

Magnus Ovilius (head of sector EMN DG HOME European Commission) discussed the important role innovation and digital transformation play in deciding tomorrow's tools for migration and the return of asylum seekers in shaping migration policies. He emphasised the need to apply new technologies without compromising ethics and protection of fundamental rights. Attention to data privacy, data ownership, identity validation and digital communication with the public and civil society are essential elements in the use of digital solutions and AI in migration management.

Avtandil Kasradze (chairman of the Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA)) reminded participants that in the post-Covid 19 recovery period, there is a need to provide the necessary skills to cope with changes in the labour market. Inclusive sustainable development requires a structural transformation of the economy, investment in knowledge and human capital, technological development, effective and flexible institutions and modern and efficient infrastructure, including the involvement of the private sector. GITA's mandate is to stimulate innovation, modern technologies, research and development, and to support innovative start-ups.

The first panel focused on electronic system for automized processes and assisted decision making in processing applications for citizenship and visas. Ave Poom (Senior Policy Officer, European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA)) gave us an overview of how EU-LISA contributes to modernising border, asylum, migration management systems. They are working on the development of the eVisa, a platform which will digitalise the visa process and reduce the risks of identity fraud, forgery and facilitate the border verification process. Continuing on the topic of migration information systems, Liis Valk (police and border guard board Estonia) exposed how these systems in Estonia are being modernised, especially to cope with the increasing volume of migration flows. The focus went on the development and implementation of automated background checks and decision-making processes, higher quality data and more efficient management of risk profiles. Automation is also a focus for Finland, where Niklas Hämäläinen (Senior Specialist in Automation at Finnish Immigration Services) explains the benefits and efficiency gains of the data-driven approach to automating permit and citizenship processes. Ada Tabatadze (senior specialist at the citizenship and migration unit of the PSDA) and Maia Bartaia (deputy director of the consular department of the ministry of foreign affairs of Georgia) explained the operation of an electronic system for managing applications for electronic visas; residence permits and citizenship issues. While in Georgia E-Systems are largely implemented, Stavros Piotopoulos (head of statistics and IIS management department, Hellenic ministry of interior) stressed the importance of human-based decisions for citizenship applications in Greece.

The second panel focused on the creation of forecasting models and analytical systems, based on big data on migration and displacement.Damien Jusselme (head of the data & impact analytics unit of IOM global migration data analysis centre (IOM GMDAC)) gave the example of the situation in Ukraine, illustrating the work IOM is doing to support data-driven decision-making on migration and displacement, and also showing how they used data from META (Facebook) to estimate the population that left Ukraine and relocated in Europe. Staying on the subject of displaced people, Alexander Kjærum (global advisor-senior analyst, Danish refugee council) illustrated the importance of having information come directly from affected communities in order to achieve accurate displacement forecasting models, and that the biggest challenge is not to build models, but to act on them. Another example of a forecasting tool was presented by Colleen Boland (ITFLOWS project, researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona). She explained that ITFLOWS project provide accurate predictions and adequate management solutions of migration flows in the European Union. She emphasised the importance of using a universal method of data collection, so that data provided by different organisations can be compared. Niko Nikuradze (secretary for data collection and processing from PSDA / SCMI secretariat) and Teona Mchedlidze (analyst PSDA / SCMI secretariat) explained how the Georgian Unified Migration Data Analytical System (UMAS) provides up-to-date technological solutions to advance migration data collection, improvement and analysis, contributing to the development of data-driven migration policies in the country. 

In the last panel Mathias Czaika from the Danube University Krems, stressed the need to always have new data sources because what is considered 'evidence-based' and what is used in our models, should only be considered preliminary given the speed in which migration flows evolve and the uncertainty factors involved.


Publication date
15 November 2022
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs