https://hodigital.blog.gov.uk/2016/10/19/how-a-digital-team-is-helping-to-resettle-syrian-refugees/

How a digital team is helping to resettle Syrian refugees

I’m immensely proud to be working as a researcher on a smart but simple-to-use case-working service for staff at the Home Office.

Just over a year ago the then Prime Minister announced that 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees would be resettled in the UK by 2020; and I joined a multidisciplinary team to build a tool to help do this.

I’m proud, because between us we’ve used our varied expertise to do some clever things with both existing data and systems, which ultimately helps give refuge to those in need quicker.

Syrian refugees in the Domiz camp
Syrian refugees in the Domiz camp

The first thing we needed to understand, was just how a digital service could help the most. We saw that our colleagues in the resettlement team could do their jobs more efficiently if their time could be spent focusing on the individual refugee cases rather than re-keying information across multiple systems.

Our users are now able to process cases digitally by integrating data that comes directly from the UN with our existing systems. This means we save processing time, can prioritise cases based on the needs of the individual refugee, and better analyse trends across the UK-wide resettlement programme.

In time, we'll also be able to use this data to help make matches to accommodation offers and to services in Local Authorities.

We reused code from another service, which gave us a head-start. We built the service in an agile way, which meant we could turnaround changes and deployment quickly. And we also automated testing.

The programming language we used means the service can be easily scaled up and, importantly, re-used in other areas of case-working. We'll be able to adapt the service for other resettlement operations - including children at risk. This will save us time and money.

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