Hackaday Prize Entry: Refugee Reuniter

The world is dealing with a serious refugee crisis, and with that comes a problem: finding people. The Refugee Reuniter, a project entered into this year’s Hackaday Prize, is a possible solution to this problem. It’s a device that allows people to reconnect with their family, whether it’s children lost in transit to destination countries, or mothers and fathers reuniting.

The basic problem the Refugee Reuniter is trying to solve is tracking people. This is a whole ball of wax that involves privacy and technological concerns. Ideas put forward so far include GPS trackers, implantable RFID tags, and other such draconian measures. The Refugee Reuniter puts another spin on this, while still assigning a unique, electronic ID to every name.

The basic hardware for the Refugee Reuniter is simply an RFID wristband or token, carried with the refugee at all times. This token is mapped to a name that can be looked up in a small terminal, tied to a specific location. If a refugee logs into one of these terminals, their location is logged and they can search for their relatives. It’s a simple technological solution to what is basically a gigantic dead-tree logbook, only backed up into an online database.

15 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Refugee Reuniter

    1. Manual data entry is slow, error prone and subject to numerous sources of friction and confusion. It also cost money if you decide to pay someone to do it to try to achieve consistency. The RFID eliminates those issues.

      1. Bar codes would also work.
        Personally, I’d consider doing a combination. Print a barcode with number so that you have the data in 3 formats in case 2 get damaged.

  1. The wrist band is a nice idea for maintaining privacy while keeping someone physically attached to a temporary digital identifier. I wonder if anyone currently manufactures RFID enabled hospital bracelets, as those would be less bulky than the one pictured and may already have manufacturing infrastructure in place for cost-reduction in addition to having a proven track record of staying on people until intentionally removed.

  2. I think this is the sort of situation where something like a QR code would be very useful.
    It would allow any phone with a camera to be used as a reader and lower the cost for each person it’s used for (Paper is cheaper than microchips).
    In addition to this I believe having a printed text copy of any unique identifier values would be handy as a backup.
    You could still use a RFID tag with these other methods.

    1. I completely agree with you. A QR code is much more applicable by combining paper with waterproof glue you have a very inexpensive and reliable solution. If privacy is required the simple inclusion of a flap of paper or tape that covers the QR code will work more effectively than building RF blockers.

      A web app that used the geolocation API could easly log any given location a scan was done.

  3. Would be very useful serving humanitarian purposes in any of the hurricane/cyclone/tornado disasters, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.. Credit cards, automobile registration, proof of insurance… many places rfid and QR codes are already being used to positively identify each and every one of us, we all have several different ID numbers assigned to us. Great potential for good… We know for a fact there are no worries, and have even our pets chipped so they will be returned home if lost. It’s all just for good…

    1. A small percentage of chipped animals do develop tumors I hear.

      (Apart from the individuality and freedom and privacy issues with all the tracking and numbering of everybody as you say)

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