© InfoMigrants
© InfoMigrants

Tech developers came together in Rome to create applications that foster communication and integration between young refugees and their Italian counterparts. The 'hackathon' was organised by Techfugees Italy, a non-proft organisation that puts technology at the service of migrants.

Fifty Italian developers gathered in Rome for a programming marathon at the end of March to create technologies that foster the integration of refugees. The ‘hackathon’ was organised by Techfugees Italia, Codemotion, Facebook and Unicef. The participants, divided into ten groups, had one night to create an application for a Facebook platform that might facilitate communication between young refugees and their Italian counterparts.

"The theme of this hackathon is extremely dear to our heart," explained Mara Marzocchi of Codemotion, the company that supplied the programme developers for the initiative. "The aim is to find solutions that might facilitate interaction and integration between refugee millennials and their Italian counterparts. We are extremely curious to know what will come out of it."

Techfugees: technology for migrants

During the two-day event (March 31 – April 1), representatives of UN children's agency UNICEF had explained the critical aspects of communication for the target group. "People always think of accommodation, and of the laws, while the problem of adolescents is important," Marzocchi continued.

"Technology can help NGOs handle emergencies and promote integration," said Benedetta Arese Lucini, Managing Director of Techfugees Italy, which launched in November 2015 on the back of an idea by TechCrunch European editor Mike Butcher. The Italy chapter has already organised three Hackathon events: in Turin, Venice and now Rome.

“We decided to bring Unicef and Facebook on board to define the project," she continued. At the meeting it was decided "not to concentrate on emergencies but to focus on integration."  They would also focus on "overcoming cultural barriers, the better flow of information to migrants and also providing information about them to communities  in order to foster integration initiatives".

The hope of new developments

A common problem of hackathons events is that often the projects don't pan out. "We therefore decided to ask the sponsors to enable the prizewinning developers to meet with the company," Arese Lucini said. Thus the winners of the hackaton will receive a trip to one of Facebook offices in Europe in order to spend some time on their product with company developers, and access to the FBStart programme that offers advantages for startups including credits for Facebook ads. "This motivates the team, who can try to develop their project," Arese Lucini added. "Techfugees creates moments of encounter between the world of technology and that of refugees."



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