British tech community delivers innovative solutions to refugees

By Money Times

Oct 12, 2015 09:20 AM EDT

Technology experts gathered in a one-day conference to tackle how they could help European refugees. They created an open office for all techies who wanted to help.

Tech Crunch Editor Mike Butcher held a one-day conference to gather tech experts and collaborate with them in helping European refugees. They formed a team called Techfugees where IT enthusiasts could collaborate and build software for them.

Butcher explained how the group was formed in a statement from the Venture Beat, "I called up about five friends and then, like the A-team, off we went."

They worked it out in an open-plan office with their laptops and boxes of pizza.

Sholi Loewenthal, founder of My Refuge, attended the event. My Refuge is a website and an app that allows refugees to look for people who are willing to provide home.

In a report from Leading Britain's Conversation, Loewenthal said My Refuge is the 'Airbnb' for refugees but without a cost. He explained how ordinary people could help them through housing their own spare room.

Loewenthal seeks assistance to the United Nations refugee agency during the conference.

Unexpectedly, he met Dimitri Koutsos, a tech expert from Greece. Koutsos has been helping him in his free time earlier this month to improve the app.

Besides creating software, the group is finding solutions to the problems refugees are facing. One of the refugees' difficulties is to maintain communications with their families. Most of them do not have smartphones. And if they do, they struggle with signals.

To address this issue, one team had come up with an SMS network for refugees to send text messages to various people. It's like a group messaging in a cheaper technology.

Also in the discussion was Migreat Director of Partnerships & Communications, Josephine Goube. She said Migreat wants to help refugees to be accepted.  

Migreat was founded by two immigrants in 2012. The organizational team is composed of 80% immigrants. The company had helped migrants in the process of immigration and integration steps.

Butcher wants to deliver technology solutions for the refugees; an area that the government could not provide. He hopes more Techfugees around the world will follow.

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