In the loop: Can tech entrepreneurs help reboot how we respond to a refugee crisis?

The result was the Refugee Aid app – or RefAid for short. Created over the course of a weekend in early 2016, RefAid uses geolocation and real-time data to show migrants, refugees and aid workers up-to-date maps of the nearest service points, filtered by category. Some meet simple short-term needs – such as water or blankets – while others cater to the long-term demands of a life lived in limbo: legal aid, medical clinics and education.

Meet the women using tech to transform the lives of refugees

It was a personal tragedy that compelled Shelley Taylor to launch Refugee Aid App (RefAid). The location-based platform provides migrants, refugees and aid workers with information on nearby food, shelter, education and work, through her company Trellyz – a resource management and collaboration tool for NGOs, non-profits and local governments.

RefAid, una app de ayuda a personas refugiadas y migrantes

Refugee Aid App (RefAid) es una plataforma y, a su vez, una app, que pone al servicio de las ONG un sistema de gestión de contenidos, información y comunicación que permite ubicar y geolocalizar, en tiempo real, la tipología de ayudas y servicios que ofrece cada una de ellas y observar en qué lugares se está necesitando con carácter urgente y qué tipo de demandas se llevan a cabo. Esto es posible porque la aplicación es utilizada —de manera anónima— por personas refugiadas y migrantes que, simplemente introduciendo un correo electrónico, acceden a los distintos servicios y pueden llevar a cabo sus peticiones a través de sus propios dispositivos. Proteger la identidad del usuario/usuaria es importante para que se animen a utilizarla, ya que muchas de estas personas, tras haber pasado por experiencias muy duras, temen dirigirse a los cuerpos de seguridad ya que, en el peor de los casos, pueden ser retornadas a sus países de origen.

Location-based Refugee Aid app helps in tracking nearest relief services available

Since most refugees traveling to Europe relied on smartphones for GPS to navigate and to stay in touch with their families back home, Taylor wondered how she could create an app that enabled them to find the services they might need wherever they were on their journey, and whatever their legal status. “I spoke to many large NGOs and aid organizations to see if the app I had in mind would be helpful, and their answer was a resounding yes. So my team and I created the app – Refugee Aid or RefAid RefAid – over a weekend.”