Digital interactions have become essential in all types of mobility movements. They serve as proof of identity, a means of remittance, or a communication channel. However, all interactions generate increasingly large amounts of data, without which many systems would not function. Data is passively collected in this process, primarily through the informal use of social platforms and smartphones. How this data is used, by whom, and for what purposes is often lacking transparency. Therefore, although such data infrastructures are widespread, not everyone can access them in the same way and use them for their own benefit in a fair and secure manner. While on the one hand databases and smart systems can provide the basis for hyper-surveillance, on the other, the lack of adequate data can make the living situations, dangers, and risks of people on the move invisible.
Our partner, Aapti Institute in Bangalore, India, has launched a research project to map existing data infrastructures in the context of mixed migration and to explore how migrants are situated when drawing or negotiating value from digital systems. The goal of the project is to identify the various digital interactions that intersect with the journey of people on the move and identify the barriers that hinder mobile populations from benefiting from such interactions. In a second step, Aapti will map out pathways for the governance of data infrastructures that empower mobile populations. Through collaboration with various stakeholders, Aapti aims to elaborate frameworks that protect data rights and ensure equity, inclusivity, transparency, and accountability.