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Migrant info soon gathered with app

The background information of asylum-seekers arriving in Finland may soon be available faster than ever before. The University of Eastern Finland is developing to different programmes that researchers hope will aid in integrating people seeking asylum.

Markku Tukiainen.
Professor Markku Tukiainen from the University of Eastern Finland. Image: Esa Huuhko / Yle

The School of Computing at the University of Eastern Finland is hard at work developing two smart phone applications that may help integrate asylum-seekers into Finnish society.

One of the programmes aims to uncover the education history of people moving to Finland at an earlier stage than the current system affords. The researchers say they mean to develop an application based on this need for information that could be downloaded onto a smart phone. Asylum-seekers could then input their own information and the municipality and other officials would have quick access to their history.

The other app will be an info packet on Finland, which could be considered a kind of unofficial license for Finnish society. The programme contains information and tasks on Finland and Finnish customs.

The applications will at first be launched in English and Arabic, and their intent is to speed up the integration of people coming to Finland in search of asylum.

"It can also inform Finnish societal gatekeepers that a person is able and willing to integrate," professor Markku Tukiainen says.

Officials intrigued

The School of Computing is cooperating with the City of Joensuu on the project.

"We have been granted a largish sum from the EU refugee fund to cover the costs of early integration measures. It's part of mapping out the know-how that the people coming into the country possess," says director Janna Puumalainen from the city.

Officials are also interested in the product, and representatives of the Immigration Service were in talks with the university staff over the apps on Thursday.

The contents of the applications are still being developed and the Immigration Service says it does not yet want to comment on the project.

"I believe there is a great need for information gathering of this kind," professor Tukiainen says. "What interests us most I think are these people's education background and whether there are experts in certain fields among those who have arrived here."

Prototype ready soon

The University of Eastern Finland intends to have a working prototype of each application ready fast.

"The first versions should be ready in a month," Tukiainen says.

The professor adds that the applications could be used anywhere in Europe for their information gathering purpose.

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