Technology can have a huge impact on the lives of refugees. However, ensuring this impact is positive is no easy task. The World Refugee Council (WRC) cites many ways that technology can benefit refugees, such as improving access to educational, social, and financial services, as well as providing information and resources. Yet despite these possibilities, there is also the risk that individuals might use technology to exploit this incredibly vulnerable population.
To mitigate this risk, the WRC thinks refugees should be included in designing and creating the technology that affects them. For example, Techfugees brings together refugees and the tech community for hackathons around the world to develop technology geared toward empowering the displaced. In addition, the WRC hopes to create an ethics board that will protect refugees in their use of technology. As a guiding framework, the ethics board could use part of the Toronto Declaration, which protects rights to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning.
How can refugees help to design and create the technology that affects them? What types of technology can improve education access and support for refugees? Join the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.
Excerpts from the discussion:
@01:48 Melanie Hering: It's so important to recognize that digital technology, smartphones in particular, are a lifeline for modern refugee populations seeking help, connection with family, and navigational assistance. This is a great article about the role smartphones have played in the Syrian refugee experience; communities supporting refugees need to recognize that providing infrastructure and programs for connectivity is just as important as providing food and water.
@02:09 Tina Cunningham: The state of education in refugee camps is very unreliable; connecting refugee students to online education programs is a way to provide learning opportunities that those kids might not be able to get otherwise.