The Refugee First Response Center (RFRC) in Germany has set up a live video translation system designed to meet the exponential demand for medical help arising from the fact that the country is now hosting more than a million refugees.

Containers turned into high-tech medical facilities to help refugees

In order to meet the needs of the refugee groups fleeing to Germany, a 20-foot international shipping container has now been transformed into an emergency medical facility, equipped with WiFi and the latest touch screens. With just one click users can link up to a video translation service which connects patients and doctors via 750 interpreters, who provide live translation into and out of some 50 languages. Among other benefits, this joint social action initiative helps to avoid over-loading the city’s hospitals. The idea could also be useful to other SocialTech providers and their users, such as the community organisations whose mission is to help the homeless and people living in isolation.

Launched in Hamburg, where about a thousand refugees have been arriving every month since last autumn, the RFRC is the result of close collaboration between a number of local social welfare organisations. Global social action community MLOVE, which initiated the project, approached the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Medical Centre (UKE), the Hamburg city health department, IT systems specialist Cisco and German information technology specialist Avodaq.

The initiative has already proved to be a great success. The RFRC recently obtained recognition as one of five “initiatives of entrepreneurial social pioneers (…) in the areas of healthcare and nutrition‟  under the 2016 Aspirin Social Innovation Awards for entrepreneurial social pioneers conferred by the Bayer Cares Foundation. In the long term, the RFRC intends to broaden its field of activity into such areas as nutrition, education and housing, using new technologies such as artificial intelligence. There are also plans to expand the project across Europe, to Greece in the first instance, and to set up additional centres on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, in order to be able to promote prevention and provide cure in the same place. At a time when President Trump is attempting to ban people from some Muslim countries from entering the United States – a move which has aroused widespread indignation in Silicon Valley – this initiative shows how technology and science can serve to foster borderless social welfare action.



By Théo Roux