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Artificial Intelligence–Powered Messenger Startup Helps Refugees Stay Informed

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Migrants are escorted through fields by police as they are walked from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp on October 23, 2015 in Rigonce,, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe's largest migration of people since World War II. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Migrants are escorted through fields by police as they are walked from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp on October 23, 2015, in Rigonce, Slovenia. Thousands of migrants marched across the border between Croatia into Slovenia as authorities intensify their efforts to attempt to cope with Europe’s largest migration of people since World War II. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Making sure that refugees receive vital information from humanitarian groups is a difficult and often frustrating process. Through no fault of their own, refugee communities are often scattered and disorganized.
One thing that nearly all refugees have, though, is a phone. No matter how long or dangerous their voyages have been—or what kind of infrastructure surrounds them—many refugees use phones to stay in contact with loved ones and circulate information. But up until recently, there wasn’t a way to leverage that into a simple, effective, mass-coverage solution for keeping refugees informed.

Enter Refugee Text, the brainchild of designers Kåre Solvåg, Ciarán Duffy, and Caroline Arvidsson. Refugee Text is a chatbot, or an artificial-intelligence–powered messaging service management system. The system gathers up-to-date information from reputable humanitarian groups, feeds it into the CMS program that structures and translates it. Then it spits it out into SMS flows that any refugee with a phone can access through text messages, Facebook, or through Refugee Text’s own website.

Click here to contribute to Refugee Text’s crowdfunding campaign, and read an interview with co-designer Ciarán Duffy here. —RealClearLife staff

Below, watch a video about the program and learn more about how it works.