On October 1st and 2nd, leaders in the Tech Community gathered in London to brainstorm about what mobile and web technologies could be created that could help refugees find new homes and begin their new lives in Europe. Migreat was there, to present a prototype of an immigration assistant aimed at refugees and to participate in the effort. Here’s a recap of the intense two days and some of the main ideas that came out of the event.
A Spontaneous Reaction from the Tech Community
The event was organised in just two weeks time via a Facebook group led by Mike Butcher and supported by many other local industry representatives like Nesta, London Tech Advocates, Skills Matters, Pavla Kopecna and the Exponential Network who offered space, sponsorship and support during the event.
Over two days, a group of 300 software developers, tech enthusiasts, NGOs and institutions like the UNHCR discussed, demonstrated and started building technologies that have the potential to do things like save lives at sea and help refugees navigate the EU geography and immigration systems.
Here is the full agenda and live-stream of the presentation and participants
Migreat presented and demo’d its immigration wizard and community platform that serves over two million migrants in Europe today.
We were impressed by What3words mapping technology, inspired by Marieme Jamme speaking as a refugee herself (and who is now a successful entrepreneur) and left energized by the UNHCR’s visionary talk.
The first day demonstrated how complex the crisis is and moved Ed Saperia to write on the hackpad the day after “A lot of people are building a lot of things all across the world, much of which is duplicated or never makes it to deployment. So (..) have a look at other things people are doing” before building something yourself, Ed advised.
At the hack, the atmosphere was definitely more collaborative than competitive. Teams of volunteer software developers were split amongst small tables and given a common online hackpad with information from the previous day. Some people roamed the room to exchange information on what each table’s project was on and to connect similar/complimentary projects.
We met a group building an online platform to connect refugee families to local UK host families – and it made us want to share our experience developed while building local online communities with Migreat.
We discussed with the Hack Humanity group the possibility of building an algorithm of probability of refugee applications approval.
The event brought food for thoughts for Migreat team who proudly presented an immigration wizard for refugees at the end of the night (above).
Outcome & the future of Techfugees
Serving as a platform to connect concerned individuals and organisations, the event successfully showed how the UK tech community can collaborate and work towards solutions to what looks to be one of EU’s most pressing issues.
The event enabled the creation of a crowd-sourced map of organisations, and connections between them. The hackpad is still being updated with new events everyday since the event earlier this month and has started an online exchange of information between people building similar projects at the European level.
One of the essential goal of the Techfugees, says Mike Butcher is to build a “Minimum Viable Product” which in the language of the tech community means to see working prototypes and solutions emerging in the next months. For our part, Migreat is looking forward to launching our refugee immigration wizard 🙂