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Press Release

The IRC and tech partners launch digital initiative to combat misinformation for Venezuelan refugees and displaced populations in Colombia

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  • The platform - InfoPalante - is the most recent instance of the Signpost project, which operates globally to provide life-saving information to vulnerable populations including refugees and people fleeing crisis.
  • Signpost uses context-appropriate social media channels to create two-way messaging with users, allowing the platform to adapt content contextualized to the community. Signpost has reached approximately two million users around the world.
  • Tripadvisor, Jigsaw, Zendesk, Nethope, and others are supporting the IRC in the expansion, providing critical financial support and in-kind expertise in technology and product design.

Today, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), with support from Tripadvisor, Jigsaw, Zendesk, and Nethope, launched InfoPalante, a digital platform to help displaced populations and Venezuelan refugees living in Colombia. Users will be able to access crucial information on civil and legal rights, jobs, and access to healthcare. The platform provides a detailed map of services and social media channels for the community to provide feedback and questions. 

Nearly five million have fled Venezuela since 2013 due to the ongoing violence, economic collapse, and humanitarian crisis, with most Venezuelans seeking refuge in Colombia. Information on lifesaving services is disjointed with significant gaps, making migrants, refugees, and the displaced populations in the country especially vulnerable to misinformation, further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding from all four tech companies will support the implementation and delivery of InfoPalante. In addition, Google's technology incubator Jigsaw, in partnership with Zendesk, will provide in-kind support and technology expertise to increase the platform’s efficiency, user experience, and reach. Zendesk's Help Center technology, including WhatsApp and Facebook messenger integrations, provides critical information and two-way communication with clients. The IRC is also partnering with local initiatives such as Estoy en la Frontera, a local information service, to continuously adapt and respond to community feedback. 

“Tripadvisor has supported Signpost over the last 5 years because we know and understand the value that trustworthy information, accessible in one’s native language, can have for people to make informed decisions when looking to rebuild their lives,” said Steve Kaufer, CEO of Tripadvisor. “Signpost is an essential tool to help deliver critical information to refugees, asylum seekers and crisis-affected communities that need access to vital services, especially during a global pandemic. The Tripadvisor Foundation is excited to continue our partnership with the IRC on this significant expansion of Signpost in Colombia.”

“Google has been closely supporting the efforts of the International Rescue Committee and the development of Signpost since its early days, not only with financial contributions, but with the technical expertise of volunteers,” says Patricia Georgiou, Head of Partnerships at Jigsaw. “As such, we're proud to continue that legacy of support with Jigsaw, to increase Signpost’s efficiency, user experience, and reach.”

Meghan Lopez, the IRC’s Regional Director of Latin America, said, “Once Venezuelans arrive in Colombia, they lack information about where to go, how to find work, what services are available to them, even where to live safely. Access to timely and accurate information is especially crucial for vulnerable populations fleeing crisis who are in dire need of localized information, and, what’s more, are at specific risk to COVID-19. Clear communications and trustworthy sources of information about their options for safety and services, and information about COVID-19, will save lives.”

InfoPalante will support IRC’s COVID-19 response by providing users with reliable information on preventative measures and safety guidelines. InfoPalante’s digital-first approach is also well-suited to operate within an outbreak where face-to-face community engagement is impossible. 

The IRC is committed to filling information gaps across all of Latin America, not just in Colombia. Signpost is currently active in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, called CuentaNos, and is launching in Mexico in the next month. Founded in 2015 with Mercy Corps, our Signpost global partner, Signpost was first deployed in Greece to respond directly to refugees and asylum seekers reaching its shores during the height of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

About Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor, the world's largest travel platform, helps 463 million travelers each month make every trip their best trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to browse more than 867 million reviews and opinions of 8.7 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises. Whether planning or on a trip, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to compare low prices on hotels, flights and cruises, book popular tours and attractions, as well as reserve tables at great restaurants. Tripadvisor, the ultimate travel companion, is available in 49 markets and 28 languages.

About Zendesk

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to startups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experiences should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition. Zendesk serves more than 160,000 customers across a multitude of industries in over 30 languages. Zendesk is headquartered in San Francisco, and operates offices worldwide. Learn more at www.zendesk.com.

About Jigsaw

Jigsaw is a unit within Google that forecasts and confronts emerging threats, creating future-defining research and technology to keep our world safer. We identify emerging technology threats that destabilize the internet and our society. We develop cutting-edge research and technology to counter these threats, and help defend civil society, journalists, activists and those at the forefront of digital conflict.

About NetHope

NetHope enables its members, and the nonprofit sector, to be more effective and efficient—and accelerate their impacts—through the use of technology. NetHope, a consortium of nearly 60 global nonprofits, unites with technology companies and funding partners to design, fund, implement, adapt, and scale innovative approaches to solve development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges. Together, the NetHope community strives to transform the world, building a platform of hope for those who receive aid and those who deliver it.