Technology seems to play more and more a central role in the management of migratory flows in Europe. The possibility of sending out an S.O.S from a mobile phone while crossing the Mediterranean has already saved many lives. But now IT seems to have taking a new role when it comes to the management of migratory flows in Europe.
European governments are interested in considering the use of smartphone applications, biometrics and smart cards to manage the flow of refugees before they embark on dangerous journeys to reach Europe.
EU Member States and Frontex have just launched an appeal to technology companies for the creation of smartphone applications and database to help monitoring and control migratory flows.
At the end of January on the island of Lesbos, Frontex, EULISA (the European agency in charge of European databases) and EASO (European Support Office for asylum) organized a meeting to discuss about the use of IT to ‘manage’ migration flows. Among the companies attending the meeting Securiport LLC, Crossmatch, Unisys, Thales and 3M.
For more detailed information regarding some of the proposals discussed during this meeting we refer you to an article published on The Guardian here.
While we think that some of these developments bring several question marks and doubts related to individual freedoms and basic human rights, other proposals can really offer help and support to both migrants and the people involved at various level in the field.
Here we want to highlight two interesting projects already in place:
A few days ago, the UN World Food Program launched an innovative payment system using iris scanning in Jordan (the program was tested in Orissa in India first), for Syrian refugees living in refugee camps and who can now buy food items from local stores using iris scans instead of cash, vouchers or credit cards.
Another interesting project was launched a few months ago in the UK: Homes for Syrians. This is a website built with Drupal which uses an open source on-line booking system developed by Roomify so that UK homeowners can offer temporary accommodation to Syrian refugees who have a leave to remain and are in need of shelter.
If you know of other IT project developed for migrants let us know and leave us a comment.