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Special Issue "Enabling (Im)migrants Integration Through ICT Innovation Solutions: Challenges, Opportunities, Pitfalls and Obstacles"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 10083

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Grazia Concilio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: urban innovation for sustainability and transition processes
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Giuliana Costa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: social welfare; social policies; migration; housing; social change
Dr. Maryam Karimi
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: urban planning and policy; urban politics; smart urbanism; ICT innovation

Keywords

Dear Colleagues,

In many European countries, the integration of “old” migrants across generations as well as “newcomers”, such as refugees and asylum seekers, constitutes a serious challenge for society as a whole as well as a unique opportunity to transform it. Obstacles and pitfalls are nonetheless in place. Inequalities related to ethnic and migration backgrounds are evident, such as socioeconomic and spatial segregation (including labor, school, and housing ones), little use of welfare resources compared to autochthonous populations, modest upward mobility processes, deficient recognition of migrant skills and competences in the hosting societies, discrimination in access to opportunities, concealed racism, etc.

Frequently, it is very confusing and difficult for (im)migrants to understand how to “navigate” a host country, its opportunities and obstacles in accessing crucial resources. Recent advancements in ICT development and services digitization represent an opportunity to enable (im)migrants to better understand the context in which they are inserted. ICT solutions can also quicken and ease integration processes towards more equal access to services as well as provide flexibilization and adaptation to the needs of (im)migrants that are characterized by an increasing differentiation connected to their diverse backgrounds, skills, patterns, and experiences. 

Integration goals, at the same time, are challenging ICT development and representing an opportunity toward policy innovation thanks to the experimentation of emerging technological solutions in environments and domains hardly represented in the ICT market demand. Currently, there are several European projects directly involving migrants, public authorities, research institutions, and IT companies with the aim to facilitate migrants’ integration and to develop solutions to ease their access to the existing social systems and public welfare. Using ICTs for developing better and more effective services for migrants according to their actual needs can be considered one of the integration strategies deployed by single countries, regions or single cities. 

Social Sciences seeks to develop better links between theoretical and empirical research and policy practice related to (im)migrant integration through ICT solutions. This Special Issue welcomes both theoretical or methodological articles and empirical research-based contributions that cast light on if, to what extent, and under which conditions ICT solutions enable (im)migrants to better access and use services and/or increase their wellbeing and discuss how ICT innovations may open up for social science, urban research, and urban policy, especially in Europe. Articles can be country-based or have a comparative approach. In this regard, we invite research papers from both academic and practitioner communities in the following three thematic areas. Specific topics may include (but not be limited to):

(Im)migrants’ Integration through the Use of Technology 

  • IT-supported integration services: theoretical and/or methodological issues;
  • IT-supported integration services: experiences, case studies;
  • Facilitating (im)migrants’ access to integration services;
  • Learning by doing in ICT (im)migrants’ integration solutions;
  • AI and language multicultural mediation;
  • ICT based policy making;

Engaging (Im)migrants in the Co-Creation of IT Solutions toward Integration

  • Co-design as an integration strategy;
  • Co-designing IT-based integration services with (im)migrants: case studies;
  • (Im)migrants digital communities and their interplay with the services ecosystem;

ICT to Explore Integration Pitfalls, Obstacles, and Opportunities

  • Data-driven policy-making for (im)migrants;
  • Mapping integration pitfalls, obstacles, and opportunities through open and big data;
  • Exploring existing ICT policies for (im)migrants integration.

For consideration, please submit a 1000 word abstract by 30 December 2020 which includes background, conceptual framework, methods, findings, and significance. Please note that guest editors will not consider any submission after 30 December 2020.

Please submit your abstract and any questions to special issue guest editor, Dr Maryam Karimi ([email protected]).

There are no submission fees, publication fees or page charges for this special issue.

 

Dr. Grazia Concilio
Dr. Giuliana Costa
Dr. Maryam Karimi
Guest Editors

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Innovative ICT Based Solutions and (Im)migrants Integration
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(6), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11060244 - 31 May 2022
Viewed by 967
Abstract
For (im)migrants, understanding how to navigate a host country and how to access the existing social systems and the public welfare ecosystem are among the most difficult and confusing tasks [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Digital Innovation and Migrants’ Integration: Notes on EU Institutional and Legal Perspectives and Criticalities
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(4), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11040144 - 23 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
These notes describe the evolution of the EU strategy for the integration of Third Country Nationals since the Tampere Program in 1999 until the second Action Program (2021–2027). It highlights the EU’s endeavor to close the gap between migrants and EU citizens in [...] Read more.
These notes describe the evolution of the EU strategy for the integration of Third Country Nationals since the Tampere Program in 1999 until the second Action Program (2021–2027). It highlights the EU’s endeavor to close the gap between migrants and EU citizens in compliance with the EU general anti-discrimination policy and, since the entry of the Lisbon Treaty into force, of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Accordingly, the current integration strategy has a much wider legal and financial basis than the one described by art. 79.2 of the TFEU. This new individual-centered and wide-ranging public approach can now be strengthened through the new European Digital Agenda, whose aim is also to reframe and make the relations between the individual and public administration more user friendly. However, in the human mobility domain, the large EU acquis, which is currently focused on internal security, should be re-balanced from a legislative and operational point of view to avoid the risk of infringing on data protection principles and establishing a mass surveillance framework, which could be incompatible with the EU as a democratic society and a rule of law-abiding organization. Within this very complex framework, a promising development is the establishment of a new European Asylum Agency, which may pave the way for more consistent EU asylum and migration policies. Full article
Article
Co-Designing with Migrants’ Easier Access to Public Services: A Technological Perspective
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020054 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1770
Abstract
The integration of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers remains a challenge for both public authorities and local communities at the national, regional, and local levels. For migrants, the lack of information and inability to use technology due to insufficient access skills and proficiency [...] Read more.
The integration of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers remains a challenge for both public authorities and local communities at the national, regional, and local levels. For migrants, the lack of information and inability to use technology due to insufficient access skills and proficiency in the language of the host country may lead to limited interaction with the new community and consequently to social exclusion. One of the issues of the hyper-complexity in migrant integration can be related to a problem of communication that not only involves the migrants also the local administrators and service providers. This problem requires systemic solutions rather than simple “ad hoc” solutions. This article describes the case of the easyRights project, an ongoing Horizon 2020 project aimed at improving migrants’ access to public services to ease exercising their rights. It presents the application of a co-design learning framework for the development of hackathons that aim to improve existing services. It also promotes the collaborative design of solutions that use ICTs to overcome the bureaucratic and idiomatic barriers migrants experience in their interactions with formal procedures. The example of the four ecosystems generated in the four pilot cities of the project shows the relevance of interconnecting stakeholders in the co-design of services and the potential of exploiting the multifaceted attributes of ICTs to solve the complexity in the access to such services. The results invite reflection on the necessity of exploring the capability of technology application through user-centric approaches to offer substantial solutions to the imperative—yet intricate—challenge of migrants’ inclusion in society. Full article
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Article
Data Protection Impact Assessment: A Protection Tool for Migrants Using ICT Solutions
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(12), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10120466 - 06 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1562
Abstract
Smart devices have become ubiquitous in everyday life, and it is commonplace that migrants are among the users of connected tools. With the realization that migrants rely on connectivity for multiple purposes, including to access information and services, many initiatives started working on [...] Read more.
Smart devices have become ubiquitous in everyday life, and it is commonplace that migrants are among the users of connected tools. With the realization that migrants rely on connectivity for multiple purposes, including to access information and services, many initiatives started working on developing ICT tools to assist migrants to integrate into their new society. Technological tools, however, come with inherent risks, many of which are linked to the processing of personal data of their users. This is especially true for migrants, who are often vulnerable due to their migration status, which is not always secure in the host country. To mitigate these risks, we argue that an expanded data protection impact assessment, analyzing not only the impacts related to data protection, but also to the specific situation of migrants, should be conducted at the outset of any technology development project to influence the development of safe and reliable ICT tools for this target population. A practical example of the application of such an assessment is provided, based on the authors’ experience as legal advisors in the REBUILD project, which is one of the current initiatives in the EU aiming to develop ICT tools for migrant integration. Full article
Article
Participation and Iterative Experiments: Designing Alternative Futures with Migrants and Service Providers
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100363 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1467
Abstract
The current crisis of participation and crisis of engagement of Western societies also affects the application and the validity of the participatory design methodology. Traditional techniques to collaboratively design future solutions with the users and bring their knowledge to the technology application might [...] Read more.
The current crisis of participation and crisis of engagement of Western societies also affects the application and the validity of the participatory design methodology. Traditional techniques to collaboratively design future solutions with the users and bring their knowledge to the technology application might not no longer be sufficient for the complex nature of our societies. This paper describes the applied research and design of a Digital Companion with AI-based profiling, needs matching, and service-access supporting chatbots. The objective of the Digital Companion is to enhance both the effectiveness of the services currently provided to migrants and refugees by local public administration and organizations, and the life quality of the migrants themselves. The adoption of participatory, iterative, and experimental co-creation approaches allowed to contribute to the innovation of the participatory design framework at a theoretical and methodological level, as is required in order to turn participation into action, to go beyond the mere public consultation and to find new pathways for involving all the citizens (not only migrants or local service providers) as a first step to build a successful project. Full article
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Article
Experiences and Lessons Learnt from the Evaluation of ICT Tools for and with Migrants
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(9), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090344 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1679
Abstract
As the number of migrants arriving in Europe increases, host societies face the challenge of supporting their smooth integration, respecting their needs and recognizing their competencies. A key element for their new life is their integration in the labour market. This paper presents [...] Read more.
As the number of migrants arriving in Europe increases, host societies face the challenge of supporting their smooth integration, respecting their needs and recognizing their competencies. A key element for their new life is their integration in the labour market. This paper presents a platform which offers a set of tools that has been developed to support migrants to find their way into the labour market in EU countries. This set includes tools for skill assessment, artificial intelligence tools providing recommendations for jobs that match their personal skills and needs, tools for suggesting training paths and options to empower their candidacy, and easy-to-use tools for creating their CV/portfolio. We focus on the evaluation of this platform in real life settings in two countries (Greece and Spain), which is part of our co-creation approach. The results are very promising and show the satisfaction of the migrants. Additionally, they provide valuable insights for both those that develop such tools and those that can use them in their work/activities with the migrants (such as the non-governmental organisations and host authorities). Full article
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