April 27, 2015 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations providing relief and resettlement services to people impacted by crisis, today announced the launch of IRC Service Info, an online platform that will enable the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon to search and rate aid and commercial services – ranging from healthcare to financial services and retail – online or over the phone.
Developed by the IRC and funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the IRC's Service Info project aims to provide a solution to an information gap for transient refugees looking for local services. The site URL is https://serviceinfo.rescue.org/app/.
"Too often, access to what can be life-saving services available to Syrian refugees in Lebanon is not understood, or even known about," said IRC president and CEO David Miliband. "That's why we have built IRC Service Info, to help inform refugees about the services available to them, and to improve those services by creating a feedback loop to service providers. This simple but powerful use of technology is a small building block in helping to create a semblance of normality for people whose lives have been shattered by the defining humanitarian crisis of this century."
Similar to websites and applications that allow users to search for hotels or restaurants and then rate those services, Service Info can be accessed on a smart phone, tablet or computer. Organizations that provide assistance to refugees – such as NGOs, medical facilities and even supermarkets – can promote services on Service Info. Once a refugee has used a service, he/she can rate their experience on the Service Info site.
Refugees can search for these services using key words. After the refugee has used a service, he/she will be able to rate the quality received by leaving a rating and comments.
While the system is web-based, refugees and service providers who do not have access to the Internet will also be able to call a hot line to register their organizations or find a service.
Service Info addresses a complex system of aid in Lebanon where a dispersed urban refugee population not inside conventional refugee camps, combined with multiple service providers, can leave refugees unaware of what support is available to them.
Service providers in Lebanon are currently signing up with the platform set to go live to users early next month.