The Refugee Datathon Munich is a meetup group of IT people collecting and presenting information on the refugee situation in Germany and the world.
How did the The Refugee Datathon Munich, aka #Nerds4Refugees Meetup, come into existence? In 2015, there were many refugees coming to Europe, and Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel famously asserted that „Wir schaffen das„. Everyone in Munich wanted to contribute, and the IT people were no exception. But how can IT people help?
In the 90es there had been a similar situation in Germany when people fleeing the Yugoslaw Wars arrived. Some organisations were created in response to this, such as the Münchner Flüchtlingsrat, and they still work for the cause, with a lot of experience and background knowledge. There is some room for improvement in the technical aspects, though.
The migration ministry, Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge or „BAMF“ for short, has numbers on their asylum decisions. These numbers are highly relevant for the activists. One of them would email the ministry, get a PDF and type the numbers into Microsoft Excel, then produce a chart which in the end would be seen by a few people. All of this is enough to break any IT person’s heart. So we did some Freedom of Information and tabula and datawrapper work to change things and have been publishing those numbers since then in our „Asylentscheidungen“ (asylum decisions) pages. I’d like to add that it helped a lot that the ministry decided to put their data online every month (still as PDF, but much better than sending emails).
At the same time, this is a meetup group #Nerds4Refugees, and we met. Since 2015, there have been 10 „Datathons“ where we discussed ideas, data sources, techniques, projects and politics. A lot of small projects were done, and we learned a lot.
In 2018, our initiative even received an award: The Elastic Cause Award. It was great to experience this surge of support. In voluntary work, as you don’t get money, you need a way to experience that people value what you do. It helps a lot, thanks again. We also got the professional logo from elastic, which this webpage is using. And some trophy which I use as a pic for this page.
Also, we gave a talk, and you can get the slides at https://de.slideshare.net/SunyKim1/elasticon2018-refugee-datathon-munich and watch the video:
Also, there are articles about and from the Refugee Datathon Munich:
Linux-Magazin 12/2018: Open Data nutzen: Wie der Refugee Datathon Zahlen zum Thema Asyl verarbeitet
Computer Weekly, März 2018: Refugee Datathon Munich analysiert Big Data zu Flüchtlingen
Hinterland Winter 2018/2019: Flucht in Daten und Zahlen