How Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees and the IRC’s Signpost Initiative Empowers Displaced Populations?

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How Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees and the IRC’s Signpost Initiative Empowers Displaced Populations

How Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees and the IRC’s Signpost Initiative Empowers Displaced Populations?

In times of crisis, people need convenient access to accurate, timely information. Signpost, a project led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), is delivering critical information to millions of vulnerable, displaced people. With funding from Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees, Signpost continues to expand its reach to empower displaced populations worldwide.

Signpost recently won the inaugural European Prize for Humanitarian Innovation. The prize recognises innovative solutions that enhance the efficiency of humanitarian support to those most in need. Signpost also received the Connect award at the United Nations SDG Action Awards in July 2023.

Empowering Refugees Through Information

People facing natural disasters or man-made crises must often make critical, life-changing decisions to adapt and survive. At any point in their journey to safety, they may encounter challenging questions, like:

  • If I leave my home with my children, where will I stay between here and the displacement camps?
  • How can I get medicine for my child’s medical condition along the way and when I arrive?
  • What programmes exist to help me financially?

Empowering Refugees Through Information

Historically, the humanitarian sector has struggled to provide reliable, responsive information during crises. Often, humanitarian communication methods are short-lived or too specific to scale.

Signpost is the first global initiative to address this issue. Partnering with leading technology companies like Schmidt Futures and Meta, Signpost powers a network of social media channels and websites. Through these and other digital tools, Signpost delivers critical information and trusted advice from local liaison teams to its 12 million unique users.

What Signpost’s Programmes Offer Clients?

Signpost uses state-of-the-art technology to connect crisis-affected people with vital resources, like health or legal services. Clients access information and assistance via:

  • Websites, which offer informational articles and other resources.
  • Social media channels, which offer timely, reliable information.
  • Geolocated maps of Signpost-vetted essential service providers.
  • Two-way communication with trained, local community liaisons.

Signpost’s programmes use a dynamic content model to ensure clients receive the most useful information possible. This means that the unique needs of the communities who engage with Signpost inform and drive the programmes’ content.

Here’s how the dynamic content model works:

  1. Clients in crisis ask questions via Signpost’s various communication channels.
  2. A local liaison responds to client questions directly within 24 hours.
  3. Community liaisons spot trends in clients’ questions.
  4. These trends guide the angle of the liaison teams’ research and content creation.
  5. Liaisons use this updated content to address client questions with greater specificity and relevancy.

As each community’s needs change, Signpost teams in those areas use trends in questioning to ensure the information products they create better serve their target populations.

Tech For Refugees Funds Signpost’s Expansion

Tech For Refugees believes in the power of leveraging technology to enhance quality of life for refugees. The non-profit funds the work of its tech partners — organisations like the IRC, Airbnb.org, and Flexport.org — to help them expand their humanitarian programmes.

Tech For Refugees Funds Signpost’s Expansion

In early 2023, Tech For Refugees announced its three-year financial commitment to the IRC. The fund is helping the IRC’s rollout of Signpost in the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, and Asia Pacific. So far, the project has reached 79 million people in 20 countries, including Ukraine, Kenya, Italy, and Mexico, and continues to grow.

Learn more about the programmes Tech For Refugees supports.

About Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is a billionaire who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, pledging financial support to charitable causes through his Breakthrough Foundation. In addition to Tech For Refugees, the Foundation supports:

  • The Breakthrough Prize. At $3 million, the Breakthrough Prize is the world’s largest scientific award. Additional prizes honour early-career researchers’ contributions to fundamental physics and mathematics.
  • The Breakthrough Junior Challenge. This global video competition challenges students aged 13-18 to think creatively about science. Prizes include a $250,000 college scholarship and a new science lab for the winner’s school.
  • The Breakthrough Initiatives. Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announced the launch of these multi-million-dollar space science programmes in 2015. The programmes have revitalised the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and are advancing interstellar travel.

Yuri Milner has written a short book about humanity’s future: Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation. The manifesto envisions humanity united across nations and cultures in a shared mission to explore and understand our Universe.