2016 Technology in the Service of the European Refugee Crisis

The Institute for Global Leadership hosted a workshop on humanitarian technology in the service of Europe’s refugee crisis in collaboration with IDHack 16 and as part of its 31st Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International symposium on “Europe in Turmoil”.

The workshop convened an eclectic group of participants, united in their desire to leverage their knowledge and experience to create meaningful, tangible outcomes for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The participants included on-the-ground experts, founders of award-winning refugee relief and educational organizations, officials from NGO’s and humanitarian organizations, students, academicians, cyber security experts, and members of online technology communities.

The workshop explored technological progress in “humanitarian space.” The focus was to connect established organizations and
start ups that have first-hand experience aiding refugees with technology experts and computer scientists to improve humanitarian aid systems as well as mitigate risks of misuse.

The workshop began by identifying the obstacles and challenges that refugees and humanitarian workers in Europe are facing, followed by a brainstorming session on how technology can help to address and mitigate these challenges, from enhanced communication to translations apps to online maps, etc. In doing so, the group considered what security issues – from securing reliable information to privacy – need to be. Longer term outcomes include mobilizing the tech community to assist governments, NGOs and refugees throughout the asylum and settlement processes and to develop an ongoing, reinforcing community.


Shaharris Beh, Founder of HackerNest

Kavita Brahmbhatt, spent the last 12 years working with migrants and refugees in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and is the co-founder of Action Emploi Réfugiés, a French NGO that helps refugees find jobs via an online platform

Allister Chang, Executive Director of Libraries Without Borders

Ming Chow, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Tufts University

Thomas Hardjono, Technical Lead and Executive Director of the MIT Consortium for Kerberos and Internet Trust

Michael Niconchuk, former Emergency Response Coordinator for Questscope, based in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, and currently a Fulbright Postgraduate Award Recipient and MSc Candidate in the Faculty of Brain Sciences at University College London

Curt Rhodes, Founder and International Director of Questscope

Paula Schwarz, Founder of startupboat

David Thomson, ID3 Fellow with over 25 years experience in the high tech industry