Global peace, local information

Renee Black ( left) of PeaceGeek, one of five winners of the Google Impact Challenge Canada 2017, says their new app, Arrival Advisor conveys necessary information to refugees and immigrants. | Photo courtesy of Peace Geeks

Crises and movement are changing the lives of people, both locally and internationally. There is now a need for simple and easy access to pertinent information, and a Vancouver-based, non-profit organization seeks to answer this need.

Founded in 2011, PeaceGeeks has sought to connect and inform diverse people globally over the years and will now bring their expertise home with their new app Arrival Advisor.

Access and information in hand

The inspiration for the Arrival Advisor app came in part from a 2017 Vancouver Immigration Partnership survey that revealed 1/3 of BC’s newcomers didn’t access important settlement services, simply out of a lack of awareness. Most people now carry an information powerhouse with them at all times, in the form of cellphones. PeaceGeeks set about leveraging that portal into a simple and effective platform, connecting it with services like BC211 and the BC newcomers guide.

Because they understand that an app aimed at helping immigrants needs to be as diverse as its intended audience, the Arrival Advisor design team has succeeded in making the app available in English, French and Arabic − with goals to expand to both simplified and traditional Chinese, Tagalog, Punjabi and Korean in the near future.

“If newcomers are able to access information that is relevant and critical to their settlement success, they will ease into their new lives and communities in British Columbia more readily, which benefits existing communities by increasing diversity and inclusion,” says Lauren Hyde, PeaceGeeks research and communications lead.

From disembarkment to settling in, Arrival Advisor aims to supply new immigrants with timely, relevant, and location-specific information about settlement services. The app thus helps the journey to a new life in Canada, making immigrants feel comfortable and at home.

The active Geek

PeaceGeeks has pushed forward using the digital realm and various technological avenues to further peace and understanding globally from its inception. From “Service Adivisors” in Jordan and Turkey to Hackathons in the Lower Mainland, PeaceGeeks has continued to blaze a trail both online and in the physical world.

In 2017, they were recognized by the Google Impact Challenge for an app they had created to assist refugees. This boost helped propel them forwards and towards even loftier heights.

“We were extremely fortunate to finish Top 5 in the Google.org Impact Challenge Canada in 2017. The recognition and the generous funding we received as a result of that competition allowed us to pour our hearts, souls, and technical minds into creating an app that will serve newcomers to British Columbia in the best possible way. With that as a springboard, we are pursuing partnerships now that will facilitate scaling Arrival Advisor across Canada with the same level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail as we have achieved with the app in British Columbia,” says Hyde.

The Arrival Advisor team has made it an internal goal to constantly work hard to ensure the data available on their app is up to date and accurate across the province. They also remain keen to hear feedback from users and service providers in order to adapt and improve their platform as it continues to grow.

The new path home

Conflicts differ across regions and the people in those conflicts may not feel the struggles equally. It is imperative that genuine aid be offered to people as they move around the globe and into a new life. PeaceGeeks − by way of their newest app − aims to set forth a road to a welcoming and fulfilling new life for all newcomers to B.C., and aims, too, to later expand that helping hand to encompass all of Canada.

Immigrants and refugees can use the Arrival Advisor app to learn about enrolling their children in school, locating family support, and engaging in community-based activities that will introduce them to existing community members. In this way, the app will bridge divides between new and existing community members and facilitate more cohesive communities across British Columbia.

For more information, please visit www.peacegeeks.org.

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