EU Policy Lab workshop: How can we use tech to help refugees find work?

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By Sue Keogh

How can we use technology to help refugees integrate into the job market? This was the focus of the recent EU Policy Lab workshop on Technology and Refugee Integration, where our CEO Joséphine Goube shared her insights into the work of Techfugees.

Best of the EU Policy Lab expert workshop on Technology and refugee integration, 13 December 2016

Over the past two years, people in the tech community have done an incredible job of trying to offer solutions to the many problems faced by refugees and displaced people. You’ve been fast, reactive and have developed community-led initiatives which have made a massive difference in helping displaced people integrate into new communities.

But there is so much more that can be done to solve the challenges of integration, and the workshop on 13 December 2016 in Brussels was a good opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made and rethink ideas about policies and practices.

Still a relatively new topic for the European Commission, it was a good starting point for a discussion on the ways in which the EU can support social and technological innovation in refugee integration.

It brought together 54 participants – local public authorities, tech entrepreneurs and volunteers, NGOs, researchers, people with refugee experience active in the field, Commission policy makers, and scientists. How can we make the best use of current technologies and what could be done to support and scale-up successful initiatives?

There are a lot of positive factors driving us forward:

  • The desire and ability to quickly innovate and experiment with new tools
  • High public interest in helping find solutions
  • Excitement and energy in a new movement of highly committed individuals and communities

At the same time, a number of issues still need to be properly assessed and tackled.

  • Asylum seekers and refugees are a special group of technology users who need special protection measures. They are vulnerable and their personal data is very sensitive.
  • The challenges of funding, organising different groups who are trying to help, and avoiding duplication in the many different initiatives around the world
  • Coordination and links among refugees, public authorities, research organisations and the private sector
  • We need to ensure the initiatives are effective and sustainable in the long-term.

What happened on the day?

Workshop began with a presentation from Meghan Benton (Migration Policy Institute) of a recent report Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs are Supporting Refugee Integration.

This was followed by our CEO Joséphine Goube and Laurent Aujean’s (DG HOME) reflection on the Commission’s Action Plan on the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (including asylum seekers and refugees).

Breakout sessions focused on the role of technology in five main areas, looking at opportunities for collaboration and to develop solutions:

  1. Securing refugee access to education and training
  2. Making it easier for employers to provide decent jobs for refugees and for refugees to access them
  3. Stimulating innovation in the delivery of public services to refugees and local communities
  4. Empowering refugees to support themselves and to become entrepreneurs
  5. Supporting existing civil society organisations

Some interesting ideas were proposed:

  • Using a ‘minimum viable product’ approach to devise a system of impact measurement for tech-driven labour-market integration initiatives
  • Use data to deepen our understanding of the relationship between addressing trauma and successful integration into the labour market
  • Support local socially inclusive initiatives to empower locals and refugees to work together as equals

Next steps

There was a very positive response to this first meeting at the EU Policy Lab, and the Commission is following up on the ideas that would justify their involvement.

For more information please visit the EU Policy Lab website.

Techfugees Brisbane Hackathon: 17-19 March 2017

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Date: Friday, 17/03/2017 – Sunday, 19/03/2017

Time: 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Australian Central Standard Time (ACST)

Location: RiverCity Labs, Level 2, TCBeirne Building, 315 Brunswick St, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia – View Map

To register for the event online go to Eventbrite

Following the success of the Techfugees hackathon in Melbourne and Sydney, it’s Brisbane’s turn!

TechfugeesBNE Hackathon will bring together developers, designers, entrepreneurs and community members to develop creative tech solutions to help refugee and settle into the Queensland community.

Former refugees and asylum seekers who have already settled in Australia will participate in the event to help teams deeply understand opportunities and challenges faced by new settlers and co-design solutions.

Leaders from the tech community will mentor teams through the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, teams will pitch their solutions to a judges panel of tech and community leaders.

The event will be hosted by our sponsors at RiverCity Labs in partnership with Marist180, MDA Ltd, Access Community Services, Multilink, Australian Red Cross, Welcome to Australia and Urban Informatics Research Lab @ QUT Design Lab.

Come make a difference, have some fun, learn a lot and help to welcome refugees to the Queensland community!

Looking for inspiration on what to work on over the weekend? Check out the Techfugees Hackpad for projects that need help!

Follow us on social media to keep in touch and find out more:

Like us on Facebook @Techfugees Australia

Follow us on Twitter @TechFugeesBNE

#Hack4Refugees

To find out more about eligibility please visit DevPost

We are also looking for volunteers to help facilitate the event. If you would like to volunteer during the hackathon, register as a volunteer.

Techfugees Adelaide Hackathon: 26-28 May 2017

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Date: Friday, 26/05/2017 – Sunday, 28/05/2017

Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Australian Central Standard Time (ACST)

Location: TBC, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia

To register for the event online go to Eventbrite

Following the success of the Techfugees Australia Hackathons in Sydney and Melbourne in 2015 and 2016, it’s finally time for Adelaide to take part in this global initiative!

The Techfugees Adelaide Hackathon will bring together developers, designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, business minds and community members to develop creative tech solutions that focus on improving the lives of refugee families in Australia.

Former refugees who have already settled in Australia will be participating in this event to help teams deeply understand the problems and challenges faced by new settlers. The format of the Hackathon will draw strongly on co-design principals and practices.

Leaders from Adelaide’s burgeoning Tech community will mentor teams through the weekend.

We launch and form teams on Friday evening and work together on solutions throughout the weekend until pitch time on Sunday afternoon.

We will continue to update this event page as more details are confirmed including venue, sponsorship and prize information.

Please also keep up to date through our social media pages (Twitter & Facebook) and DevPost profile.

To get a feel for what Techfugees Australia means to the refugee community, here are some links to previous pitch ideas and successful start-ups that came about from Techfugees Australia:

#HacktheCamp: The creative marathon to find sustainable solutions to refugee issues in Greece

Posted on Posted in News, Projects

By Lida Tsene

After three intensive days of presentations and cooperation with their #HackTheCamp mentors, ten teams of programmers, refugees, designers, social entrepreneurs, humanitarian workers, educators, and artists competed with their proposals during the final phase of the hackathon creative marathon to find sustainable, scalable solutions for refugee issues in Greece.

How can we improve living conditions for refugees? How can they access reliable information on their legal status? What kind of opportunities are available or can be created for refugees? How can we tap into the many skills that moving populations bring with them? How can populations in transit and local populations come closer and develop an intercultural dialogue?

These are some of the challenges that Hack the Camp (#HackTheCamp) attempted to address.

In the first phase of Hack the Camp, which took place October 21-22 at Diplareios School, Athens, more than 70 participants and 30 experts from the fields of education, technology, culture, and humanitarian aid became a dynamic team that worked collaboratively to address the needs of refugees and migrants during this crisis. The contribution of refugees and migrants to offer their skills and experience was significant.

The final Hack the Camp was held on December 2-4, 2016 and was organized by Impact Hub Athens, the Onassis Cultural Center and the U.S. Embassy in Athens in collaboration with two international organisations with extensive experience in organising humanitarian hackathons: Creative Associates from the U.S. and International Alert from Great Britain.

Participants 

  • Autonomous Water Supply
  • Book On The Way
  • Co-Producing The Camp
  • Hopestarter
  • INTERART
  • Match & Teach Me For Integration
  • NativeNet
  • Radio Transit
  • RefWay Αpplication
  • Refergon

Judges

Winners

Team “NativeNet” won the first prize and $10,000 by presenting a smart mobile application that brings together all services available for refugees in Arabic, Farsi, and English. It also includes basic Greek lessons and enables refugees to show off their skills and get in touch with NGOs and other potential employers.

Second prize and $6,000 was awarded to Team “Refergon”, which proposed an easier way for refugees to access the labor market through existing social networks by developing a chatbot. At the same time, in cooperation with NGOs and academic institutions, Refergon will offer training for refugees to acquire business skills.

Refugee participants contributed as members of the NativeNet and Refergon teams.

The “Autonomous Water Supply” team focused on the issue of hygiene, winning third place and $4,000. The team cleverly designed a portable, collapsable sink that improves refugees’ access to clean water, especially vulnerable groups such as women and unaccompanied minors.

Special mention was given to the “EterART” team who proposed a performing arts project for children from different cultures, using their own bodies as percussion instruments.

Prizes

The winning teams will receive mentoring and business incubation support from Impact Hub Athens for the next four months. They also have the option of joining the Microsoft BizSpark program, which provides access to innovative software development tools. The cash prizes and additional services are designed to help the teams put their winning ideas into practice to benefit refugees.

Microsoft actively supported this initiative by furnishing prize money, offering technological and business mentoring groups, and providing software, which contributed to the successful implementation of the Hack the Camp ideas. Intel also provided free technological equipment for participants that will develop hardware solutions. Free localisation services for participants courtesy of Transifex. 

Supporters

Two international organisations with long experience in humanitarian-related hackathons will act as consultants, facilitators and moderators at the events. Creative Associates from the U.S. and International Alert from the UK will be the main facilitators of Hack the Camp.

Microsoft actively supports Hack the Camp by contributing to the monetary prizes, offering technological and entrepreneurial mentoring services to the teams, as well as software and devices, helping towards the success of the initiative.

GFOSS – Open Technologies Alliance within the context of the ongoing collaboration with the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens, actively supports Hack the Camp with demonstrations of open hardware and software while partners of the Open Technologies Alliance will participate in both stages of Hack the Camp and support the participating teams in using collaborative design and programming tools, as well as enable them to share their creations on open collaborative platforms.

Congratulations to the winning teams of the hackathon: NativeNetRefergon and Autonomous Water supply!


You can find photos from Hack the Camp herePhoto Credit: (ɔ) Angel Ballesteros, CC BY-SA

Make sure to also check the Facebook Group and #HackTheCamp on Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Catching up with promising startups from Techfugees Australia

Posted on Posted in News, Projects

By Annie Parker

With Techfugees chapters located in dozens of cities around the world, there’s a lot happening. We catch up with three of the most promising startups to grow out of Techfugees Australia.

SettleIn

SYD 2015 Winners

 

SettleIn creates psychologically informed goal-setting technology to help newly arrived refugees settle into their new country. Their software is used in case management and psychosocial support, designed to be accessible for every person of a refugee background, regardless of age, language, education or ability.

Over the last six months, SettleIn has formed a partnership with education company Momentum Cloud, and are currently working on a universally accessible design in collaboration with a British graphic designer specialising in designing software for people with disabilities.

In 2017, they aim to complete their first pilot with Settlement Services International (SSI) and STARTTS, two Australian NGOs who resettle refugees in New South Wales. They’ll also be coming to the UK with two versions of the software, along with a professional goal-setting tool aimed at staff.

You can support SettleIn by connecting them to refugee service organisations in the UK. You could also be able to help them find expert pro-bono advice on how to make the software accessible internationally, while maintaining strict safety and security protocols.

Refugee Talent

SYD 2015 runner-up

 

Refugee Talent is a social enterprise platform matching refugees looking for work with relevant vacancies.

The platform was created by Nirary Dacho, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Australia in 2015 with a Masters in Web Science, but still struggled to find suitable employment. After meeting Anna Robson at the Techfugees Sydney hackathon, Refugee Talent was born.

In their first year of operation, Refugee Talent has had more than 300 candidates signed up, along with 100 companies across Australia. The startup has placed dozens of candidates in meaningful employment in both Sydney and Melbourne and assisted all candidates with enhancing their resumes and job readiness workshops.

They’ve also run two ‘speed dating’ events, where 20 companies and 50 refugee candidates have had the chance to take part in multiple job interviews and network with prospective employers.

In 2017, they aim to expand to other states and run more events in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as New Zealand. Refugee Talent is also working on a pilot project with Talent Beyond Boundaries, where companies using the platform can hire highly skilled refugees from overseas.

ArtCrew

SYD Winners 2016

 

ArtCrew is a public art mentorship program and online community for young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds.

The online platform presents monthly topics and articles on current issues within youth refugee communities, based on data and research generated by SSI. Members of the online community are encouraged to respond creatively to these topics.

Each month, 5-10 young people are selected to be a part of an ArtCrew in which they learn design and public art skills from professional artist mentors, and paint murals in the Greater Western Sydney region over a 12-month period.

In late 2016, they developed a strategic partnership with Parramatta Council. The council has been a key supporter of Welcome Walls, our current community public arts campaign which aims to welcome refugees into our communities through the medium of public art.

In the first month of 2017, they secured five sites at which to create large-scale community murals. These murals have been designed through a co-design process with community members from refugee and migrant backgrounds at our first ever community design workshop.

For 2017, their focus is on creating a sustainable business model that enables the public art program to grow and attract the right partners, requiring them to raise around $200,000. They’re also exploring the augmented reality and virtual reality potential of murals and public space in order to make ArtCrew a technologically relevant and innovative business.

Later this year, they aim to develop a working pilot model that can be taken overseas in order to bring ArtCrew to other communities around the world.

Connections on fundraising and how to grow the business overseas would be much appreciated! Take a look at their crowdfunding campaign.

Looking for more info?

Get involved and support your regional Techfugees chapter
Find out more about these three promising startups: SettleIn, Refugee Talent and ArtCrew.


About the author

Annie Parker – Techfugees Sydney, CEO Lighthouse, co-founder muru-D, Chair Code Club Aus, Chair Mahuki.

 

Techfugees Jordan Hack winner won a place at the prestigious Hult Prize Regional Finals 2017

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How can students help refugees? The group of entrepreneurial students winner of the Techfugees Jordan Hackathon, organized in collaboration with Startup Weekend Jordan & Unicef Jordan, Profugees have won a place at the prestigious Hult Prize Regional Finals. We learn more about the Hult Prize and how it has solve global problems in the 21st century.

Profugees, winners of the recent Techfugees event in Jordan in collaboration with Unicef & Startup Weekend Jordan, has been selected to participate in the prestigious Hult Prize Regional Finals for their social enterprise that helps refugees. The group, Profugees, won first place beating 50,000 other applicants to the top.

 

What is the Hult Prize?

The Hult Prize was founded in 2009 at the Hult International Business School by a student named Ahmad Ashkar. He had an idea to crowd-source solutions to change the world using the knowledge of students. It started as an inter-college tournament looking to solve the global education crisis, and then it grew to include business schools and from there the Hult Prize was formed in 2010.

Now the Hult Prize is comprised of a network of judges, advisors and coaches who come together each year to find the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Part of the programme is the Hult Prize Accelerator, an intensive 6-week course to launch and nurture these social enterprises. President Bill Clinton is a key partner in the Hult Prize, alongside the Hult International Business School and the Clinton Global Initiative.

In 2017 the Hult Prize seeks to solve problems around and provide answers to the refugee crisis.

Hult Prize Finals

Aya Al-Nouri, founder of Profugees, and ambassadors Zena Ayman and Nada Hamad will attend the 8th Annual Hult Prize Regional Final in Dubai. They will be accompanied by Ossiria, Impact and Strategizers who won second, third and fourth place respectively

Another team of students, ATLAS, winners of the LSE Hult Prize quarterfinals where Techfugees was judging, will join them there – and compete for a seat at the finals in New York on the 5 March.

 

The prize is a place in the summer Hult Prize Accelerator, where the winners can develop their solutions in a world-class center for innovation and entrepreneurship. Here they will also compete with other teams in the finals. After the accelerator programme is complete the teams will pitch their ideas President Clinton and the Hult Prize judges. The overall winning team receives $1 million (USD) to launch their social enterprise.

The Hult Prize is a prestigious organisation that seeks to make real and lasting change to tackle the world’s biggest problems, and we at Techfugees are delighted to see it is helping refugees in 2017.

Find out more about Profugee’s project on the University of Jordan website, or visit the Hult Prize to learn more about the competition.

Hackathon with Young People: TF Australia inspires with third event

Posted on Posted in Events, News

By Anne-Marie Elias

Find out what happened at the third Techfugees Australia hackathon in November 2016, in which young refugees, entrepreneurs and the tech community came together in the Parramatta district in Sydney to find solutions to the challenges faced by those newly arriving in Australia.

The #Hack4Refugees event kicked off with insights from four young people who talked about their experiences and set the scene.

Then, over the course of a weekend, teams or four or five people worked with refugees to create new businesses, business models and minimum viable products. With intensive mentoring and support, the teams were able to create, validate and pitch their solutions by late Sunday afternoon. There was a focus throughout on doing more than just surviving – a common theme was how to settle into a new country and thrive long term.

The winner of the $15k prize was Art Crew, with their idea of designing murals to proudly and publicly celebrate multiculturalism.

Also in the running were:

See the pitches in full

Get involved with Techfugees Australia

With three events behind them, founders Annie Parker, Nicole Williamson and Anne-Marie Elias are starting to see the positive impact of the Techfugees Australia events, particularly on the younger people.

More information

Follow the Hack4Refugees Storify from day one and day two
See Anne-Marie Elias on Codesigning Solutions to Settlement

Read Serina Gill’s blog post
Read Gavin Heaton’s write-up
See the submissions from Techfugees Australia
Join Techfugees Australia on Facebook

Winners of TC Disrupt Hackathon will help refugees with education, identity and social inclusion

Posted on Posted in Events, News

The TechCrunch Disrupt London Hackathon was the launchpad for three ideas, which will help refugees with social inclusion, access to education, and keeping track of their identity even if essential papers get lost.

Running for a total of 24 hours and taking place in the run-up to the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, the hackathon attracted nearly 300 participants. The three winners selected by Techfugees from eleven competing teams used IBM Watson, Twilio and Twitter APIs to develop ideas which will help refugees with social inclusion, gain access to education, and show proof of identity.


Who were the winners?

  • RefuTweet

RefuTweet aims to provide refugees on the move with the help they need by connecting with local individuals sympathetic to their cause.

The messages are parsed through IBM Watson to extract both the location and request. RefuTweet then searches Twitter in a radius of up to 16 miles around the area and identifies all handles which have tweeted about the refugee crisis in the past week.

A personality insight analysis is run on all relevant Twitter profiles to identify specific users in the area who are sympathetic to the refugee cause and exhibit personality traits such as love, harmony, idealism, sympathy, and altruism.

RefuTweet sends out friendly tweets and a link, asking the top three users if they would like to help a refugee in their area who is in need. If the link is clicked and confirmed a message is sent back to the refugee alerting them that someone is willing to help and how to arrange a meeting.

Watch the video and find out more about the team: Harley Katz, Brett DeWoody, Dhaval Patel, George Stefanis, Michael Curtis.

  • ResID

When refugees are in a foreign country they often have very limited papers with text information, papers which can be easily lost or stolen. ResID helps people never lose track of who they are.
Watch the video and find out more about the team: Danil Gontovnik, Andrey Staroseltsev, Jon Miller.

  • Sensei Hub

Sensei Hub provides a simple capture mobile app that photographs and records student test papers.

Computer vision understands the test paper results, and instantly records this against the student and test IDs from the one photograph.

A facial recognition feature is also available where the student doesn’t have their student ID. This is stored locally in the teachers own mobile device until they are within wifi and an upload to the SenseiHub.online repository can be completed and the test data securely archived.

Watch the video and find out more about the team: Luka Topolovec, Blaz Magdic, Tine Postuvan, Joanna Alpe.

 

What’s next for the winning teams?

Techfugees has offered to support the three teams in developing their prototype into a working MVP with the help of partners TechHub, AltCity and TheToolBox. They will also support field trips to Calais and Lebanon.

After the winners were announced Josephine Goube, CEO of Techfugees, said:

“The prototypes that have been presented have the potential to provide relief to millions of refugees, because unlike distributing aid, tech solutions scale. We were delighted to see so many teams pitching solutions and so many of them really understanding the potential of AI, chatbots and voice recognition systems, thus saving time for refugees and NGOs by automating many time-consuming tasks. Especially in the domain of education, knowing that one out of two refugees is a child, we can’t stress the importance of the need to create solutions that scale now and can be deployed as soon as possible. A child that does not go to school for years will find it extremely hard to catch up later and may never get another chance.”

As part of the hackathon, Techfugees partner Lebanon-based entrepreneur and AltCity CEO, David Munir Nabti, mentored the hackers taking on the Techfugees challenges.

“It was great to see so much energy at the hackathon from teams working to build scalable solutions for refugees and other marginalized communities. We’re excited to see how we can mobilize some of that great talent and energy to support innovation emerging from refugees themselves. If we can build stronger links between these innovators and entrepreneurs and the refugee communities, we can make great strides towards addressing deep challenges that affect us in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.”

Elizabeth Varley, CEO of TechHub, explained:

“Technology has the ability to transform lives, from everyday experiences to times of crisis. As an advocate of diversity and inclusion in tech, TechHub is delighted to partner with Techfugees in recognising the efforts of entrepreneurs seeking to improve access and opportunities for refugees. We look forward to having the winning team as part of the TechHub community to support them in their awesome work.”

More information

See what else went on at the TechCrunch Disrupt London Hackathon
Find out more about TechCrunch Disrupt

TF France: Data for the good of refugees

Posted on Posted in News

By Aline Mayard

How many migrants are there? Where do they come from? What routes do they take? What do they need? How do they integrate in their new countries? What are their final destinations? Who are they? – To help migrants, you need to understand them. And that’s the biggest challenge.

tffrance_dataforgoodScreen capture of The Migrant Files

Data enables us to better understand migrations and migrants’ needs.

Because migration is rarely declared and is managed by governmental organizations, NGOs and associations don’t work together and lack funding, professionals and volunteers don’t have access to the data they need to analyze behaviors and obtain accurate information.

On September 15th, we, Techfugees France, organized with Data4good a talk to raise awareness on the importance of data to help refugees. A mixed crowd of analysts, migration professionals, and volunteers were there.

Even if obtaining information on migration is extremely difficult because sharing info about their life can put migrants in danger (human trafficking, repression from their home countries, illegality…), it is essential in order to offer services and products that answer migrants’ needs.

Data journalism

Data journalism is a type of journalism based on the use of data. The journalistic company J++ used this approach to investigate migration.

During our event, their CTO, Pierre Roméra, presented The Migrant Files, a consortium of European journalists who investigated for two years on the cost of the fight against immigration. A first investigation, called Counting the Dead, counted the number of people who died trying to get into Europe and highlighted the most dangerous places to cross the border for migrants. A second one, called The Money Trail, showed the financial cost of European politics to stop immigration. The results of those investigations could help politicians adapt their politics to save lives and money.

Gathering the data wasn’t easy. For Counting the Dead, they had to use the data gathered by journalists and migration organizations. Because it isn’t their job, they have a hard time structuring that data.

The Migrant Files team had to structure the database, and reformat and cross-check the data. Then they had to delete the duplicates and check via press articles if those deaths truly did happen and if more info was  available. A daunting job that reminds us that time, patience, and technical knowledge are needed to create a clean and usable database.

In the end, the consortium counted 30,000 deaths since 2000. The second investigation estimated that border protection cost 1.3 billion Euro at least since 2000. Those figures are imperfect, many more deaths and expenses weren’t taken into account for a lack of information.

So what is the use of this information?

Giving journalists the info they needed to become experts on migration and raise awareness wasn’t the main goal. J++ wanted to prove that the political institutions could do this as well but simply didn’t want to gather this information.

Data guiding social entrepreneurs

Data is useful in many other sectors. Techies could also exploit the data power to evaluate the migrants’ needs and improve their products and services.

Data for good is a non-profit that gathers over 250 data scientists looking to volunteer to help solve social problems.

One of their initiatives is a 10-week accelerator that enables social business managers to be followed by mentors (Bayes Impact, Snips, Etalab), to attend workshops, and to use a workspace at Liberté Living Lab in Paris. The program ends with a Demo Day that welcomes 200 to 300 people.

In early October, Data for good kicked off the second season of this acceleration program and two migration-related projects were selected:

  • Basefugees is the platform, launched in beta in June 2016 by Techfugees, that mobilizes the tech community and helps NGOs deal with the challenges of this crises.
  • Quickbed is a free platform that connects immigration players with emergency housing solutions to allow cheaper and smarter integration. Thanks to Data for good, founder Paul-Emmanuel Levy will bring to life a project called Newbed. Newbed spots hotels that could host migrants.

Now, have YOU thought about how you can leverage data to improve your solution?

By Aline Mayard

 

Related event

TF France: Data4Good event in September 2016

Can you help Project Elpis increase the impact of their solar hubs?

Posted on Posted in Infrastructure, News

By Samuel Kellerhals

Project Elpis has developed six solar-powered hubs, which are charging 18,000 phones per month in Greece. The goal is to upgrade these hubs so refugees can access educational, legal and other useful content securely and reliably. Find out three ways you can help.

elpis1 elpis2

We are Project Elpis (Greek for Hope) and we have developed a solar-powered charging station for refugee camps that charges up to 120 mobile phones every single day. We are upgrading our design and will include a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Wireless Access Point within our solar hubs so that users can connect to it over a wireless network and access locally stored educational, legal and other useful content securely and reliably. This content will include a myriad of useful mobile applications, along with educational content such as a library of books that refugees will be able to access on their mobile phones!

Our platform will provide a place where humanitarian digital service providers will be able to directly disseminate their content to refugee communities, by by-passing the knowledge and connectivity gap often encountered when first trying to reach out to refugees with an innovative humanitarian digital service. Currently, there are six solar hubs in operation, charging more than 18,000 phones per month in Greece. The aim is to expand our impact and upgrade all our units with the Raspberry Pi’s at the end of February 2017.

How can you help?

  1. Content ideas

We welcome ideas, feedback and advice from the Techfugees community on what content we should integrate on our platform. What would be most useful? Do share your thoughts.

  1. Tell us about your humanitarian digital services

Would you like to feature your own services on our platform? We are seeking voluntary help from programmers, developers, web designers and anyone who would like to partner with us on our platform to disseminate their digital services to refugees.

  1. Help us develop our user interface

We’re looking for people skilled in web development to help us build a web-based interface similar to the one pictured. We need to lay out the content in a simple manner and offer the option to search.

This includes the following actions:

  1. Setting up an efficient server and ensuring its security and reliability. Our current server of choice is Jetty, which is built in with Pippo (pictured).
  2. Ensuring the Wireless Access Point of Raspberry Pi 3 is reliable and adjusted to the anticipated load.
  3. Developing the website to display the content and setting up a database.

Our primary criterion is performance, since the connection is going to be limited in speed and capability. Therefore, we want to develop the application as lightweight and efficient as possible, while keeping it maintainable.

Our choice for a web framework is Java Pippo. Since the same criteria apply to the database, we want to develop with H2. For the user interface, we want to keep it simple and intuitive, both for user experience and performance reasons.

  1. Setting up automated deployment. We want to be able to set up any new Raspberry with the help of automated deployment. This should make it very easy to keep the different Raspberries across developers in sync as well.
  2. Ensuring the Raspberry is running on minimal possible power consumption. This would include disabling unnecessary interfaces and removing unnecessary packages, possibly doing other tweaking as well.
  3. Measuring the server and Raspberry performance and power consumption for statistics. This could be useful to us in order to know where we could improve, and to people doing similar projects. Also, we want to keep logs of user activity.

Keep in touch with Project Elpis

If you can help with the website build, have ideas for content or would like to put your own humanitarian digital services on our platform, please get in touch!

Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Project Elpis Team, Students at the University of Edinburgh

elpislogo