Mobile app helping friends and family members reconnect

Published 18 December 2017 in:

More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide. Many have lost contact with their families and friends, and face huge difficulties finding each other. This led two technology companies to come together and build a mobile search app to help separated people find each other.

Danish non-profit technology organisation REFUNITE had originally developed an online family tracing tool to help refugees reconnect with their loved ones.

But when it later became apparent that many more refugees had access to mobile phones than computers and the internet, Swedish communications technology and services company Ericsson came on board to help develop a mobile version of the tool. The mobile app they came up with is built on simple text messaging technology that enables the exchange of information without the need for an internet connection.

Both the online tool and the mobile app were developed in close coordination with refugees in Africa and the Middle East, taking into account literacy levels, privacy, bandwidth availability, language and trust.

By 2016, REFUNITE had 600 000 registered users and hundreds of families had shared their reconnection stories. But the actual number of reconnections is likely to be much higher, as the service is anonymous. The aim is to further expand the service geographically, and with new features that will help millions of families separated by conflict or disaster.

This case relates to Global Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

This case relates to International Migrants Day.

Read more about REFUNITE at Ericsson and at refunite.org.