13. 07. 2021.

Meet Nastasija Grujić

A young researcher that turns big data into useful tool for demystifying population dynamics in Serbia!

Why is the population in Serbia declining? What are new insights about in-country migrations, economic migrations, out-migration, and scientific diaspora? These were some of the issues tackled throughout the Depopulation Data Challenge, organized by UNDP Serbia Accelerator.


One of the winners was the BioSense team!


Nastasija and other researchers from BioSense are the first research team to use aggregated and anonymized data from a mobile operator to detect population trends in the country, thanks to cooperation with Telekom Srbija. Combining these data with data from satellites and OpenStreetMaps, they discovered where the population’s real representation differs from the official data. Hidden depopulation trends were detected in Novi Pazar and Tutin, where despite positive natural increase rate derived indicators imply population decline. On the other hand, the municipalities in which they noticed the largest influx of population are New Belgrade and Savski Venac, as well as Smederevo.


Results proved that Telecom data, due to the high usage of mobile phones, can be used as a global proxy for population assessment in a near real-time manner. Further, it is shown that combining Telecom data with other data sources can provide better insights on depopulation trends that can be further utilized for policy-making. The insights of the proposed solution are accessible through a web portal, which includes interactive maps, dashboards, and customized reports.


Nastasija’s role in this project consisted of intensive big data processing and analysis, as well as features extraction for the predictive model. Nastasija, as a GIS engineer also oversaw making the maps, geospatial analysis, and geostatistics. Overall, her expertise substantially contributed to the success of the project.


Stay tuned! BioSense team continues to work on this data to shed light on rural-urban interactions and to design new indicators of rural development.