What is this research about?
The paper includes examples of how more advanced technologies could be used to improve integration outcomes in Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC) States. In particular, this paper discusses an algorithm that has the potential to direct newcomers to destinations where they are most likely to succeed economically, the use of virtual reality to provide newcomers with an immersive learning experience, and what big data can tell us about the role of citizenship in successful economic integration.
What do you need to know?
Although NGOs, the private sector and others have developed technologies to support migrant and refugee integration, this paper focuses primarily on those that have been developed, funded and/or are in use by governments in IGC States.
While digital tools hold significant promise in terms of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of integration systems in IGC States, they are not a panacea, nor are they a substitute for in-person learning and interaction. Many newcomers face barriers to accessing the internet, including connectivity issues and low levels of digital literacy. Digital tools are best used alongside more traditional forms of learning and training, and including the end user in the design of digital tools can help ensure their relevance, accessibility and effectiveness. Accordingly, in addition to highlighting specific uses of technology for integration purposes, this paper also offers best practices and considerations gleaned from research in this area.
What did the researchers do?
To better understand how technology is being applied in the integration context specifically, this paper draws on a 2020 information request from Belgium to other IGC States regarding their use of digital tools to support the settlement and integration of migrants and refugees, as well as broader research.
What did the researchers find?
Most IGC States use informational websites to provide general settlement and integration information, such as how to access basic services like education, healthcare, and housing. Oftentimes, these websites provide information in multiple languages, and also include details regarding immigration processes, local laws and customs, and how to access specific integration support. Complementary to websites, some IGC States are also making use of videos and apps in this regard.
In addition to websites, IGC States are also employing more targeted digital and online tools, including YouTube videos, interactive online courses, and apps to help newcomers learn the local language, find a job, prepare for tests, and pursue other key elements of the integration process. While the majority of these initiatives are for the benefit of newcomers themselves, some are designed to support language instructors, employers, and others involved in migrant and refugee integration.
How can you use this research?
The information in a report like this is at best incomplete and out of date as soon as it is published. It is worth continuing to capture and catalogue digital tools created by and for government, as well as funded by government, as well as those self-funded, or part of the private sector, in each country. For example, in Canada I have compiled and maintain a spreadsheet of interesting digital programs/projects in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector in Canada. Anyone can add their project, or one they know of, to this spreadsheet via the online form in the post linked to.