The arrival of and then the caring for refugees is considered one of the great challenges of modern times. More than 50 million people worldwide are displaced as refugees, according to the current UN refugee report. Many of them have been travelling or are on their way to European countries – among them Germany. Their arrival and accommodation is a great challenge for cities and regions in North-Rhine Westphalia – with regard to the logistics involved as well as with regard to the social and community aspects involved.
Nett.Werkzeug aims to creatively reverse this situation, turning a perceived strain into a strength – socially as well as economically. To do so, the Nett.Werkzeug platform provides a number of tools, each designed to support the arrival, accommodation, and then integration of refugees into the local city community. These features of Nett.Werkzeugs can be customized by local stakeholders according to their respective needs.
Thus, the platform bundles coordination and information tools in one place that previously had to be identified and then synchronized in various ways and from multiple locations.
Many people are willing to volunteer, help and donate in cities across the country, but there is a frequent lack of coordination and matching of needs and help provided. Digital communication tools like messenger functions of social platforms or collaborative writing tools are being used by help organizations and volunteers to coordinate and organize workloads and distribute donations in kind – a procedure that can quickly be unclear and cause frustration, e.g. when donations in kind need to be rejected due to lack of storage space.
The Nett.Werkzeug platform closes this gap. It is a tool designed to provide refugees as well as local volunteers and professionals aiding refugees with quick orientation and coordination of help and donations in kind. In doing so, it aims not only at helping with the first needs upon arrival but keeps an eye on subsequent steps as well with news, orientation and information support with regard to apartment hunting, language classes, as well as social assistance and support and local orientation. Furthermore, the platform focuses on the creative potential of the refugees themselves: they can get involved providing information and experiences for other refugees to read and learn from.
With this, the Nett.Werkzeug bundles knowledge and information in one place, which before had to be researched and assembled from various places across the internet. Moreover, the platform is flexible and customizable to local needs and requirements.
Nett.Werkzeug is developed following a participatory approach, involving local stakeholders in the concept and design process of the platform. Their local knowledge, their experience and their needs form the basis for the custom-fit implementation of the Nett.Werkzeug platform.
To make these experiences accessible for the platform design, our researchers work with professionals as well as volunteers and refugees themselves, using qualitative research methods to explore current work practices and organizational structures, tools and auxiliary means. Via creative, participatory formats, the refugees themselves, as well as professional aiders and volunteers get to participate in the creation of information and content for the Nett.Werkzeug. This work with local stakeholders forms the basis for the general design of the platform and its features, which will then be implemented in an iterative design process, and in close coordination with the local stakeholders.
Over the course of the project time, a general platform design and structure is developed which is then customizable to the individual needs of cities and regions.
Bido, M., Aal, K., Weibert, A., Wulf, W. (2017). Translator Pool: Connecting Refugees and Volunteers. In: C&T 2017, Refugees & HCI Workshop, Troyes, June 2017.
Weibert, A., Aal, K., Vu, D., Wulf, V. (2017). Designing for Diversity: Development of a Platform Aiding Refugees. In: DIS 2017, ArabHCI-Workshop, Edinburgh, June 2017.
Nett-Werkzeug soll Flüchtlingen das Ankommen erleichtern / Menschen mit Fluchtgeschichte haben mitgewirkt. Siegener Zeitung, 02.12.16