COMPONENT 2: ACCESS TO Public Transportation
Feeling at home in a new country and getting to know the culture of that society depends on the opportunity to take part in communal living. High traffic urban environments, which provide access to financial, social and educational institutions, are out of reach for asylum seekers and refugees, who often live in refugee homes located outside of the city center. Many asylum seekers, who are entrenched in the lengthy asylum process, seek a path to understanding the society they are trying to join, but find that without access to transportation, they have no way to explore their surroundings.
European cities and counties count on very efficient public transportation systems. However, the cost to purchase a ticket is often out of range for asylum seekers and refugees, who need to make ends meet with a personal daily allowance and no possibility to earn.
In partnership with local public transportation authorities, The Welcome Card aims to provide access to public transportation as a gateway to language, education, culture, and local society to promote early-inclusion activities. Utilizing existing infrastructures, asylum seekers and refugees can use their Welcome Card to access any public transport type within their residence area.
The Welcome Card utilizes an RFID chip for ease of compatibility and access to the information stored in the card. This type of electronic system allows for information to be registered and stored in a cloud-based manner, providing security and safety for quick deployment and replacement. In case the card is lost or idle, the system allows for the card to be easily revoked and no credit top-up balance to be added. Each card would additionally match the cost for the subscriber's age and change accordingly with market price.
Social and Financial Value Proposition for Asylum Seekers
- Human capital investment: granting access to places otherwise unexplored by asylum seekers is a positive reinforcement of being involved in a society, changing their position from being outsiders looking in to insiders gazing about in exploration. It especially fosters:
- freedom of movement to encourage individual initiative;
- enrollment in language courses and socialization with the locals to learn the language faster;
- increased understanding of the surrounding community and culture;
- opportunity to make contact with companies for employment;
- enrollment in skill-based courses, seminars and integration initiatives;
- participation in free activities around them such as public events, museums and visit playgrounds.
- Social and cultural enrichment: when asylum seekers and refugees become active members in their communities, both welcoming communities and asylum seekers/refugees have the opportunity to share social and cultural perspectives.
Social and Financial Value Proposition for Migration Agency
- Impact on requests: with the added involvement in the community via public services, the migration authority is expected to see a reduction in unnecessary requests advanced by asylum seekers during the decision-making process, thus improving the handling time of asylum applications.
Social and Financial Value Proposition for Host Communities and Local Municipalities
- Early inclusion is the road to integration: locals and asylum seekers getting to know each other will increase respect of one another and reduce fear and conflicts.
- Return on investment: investing on mobility will lead to decreased costs for monthly allowances for asylum seekers and to growth in income from taxes for local governments.
During January 2017, we performed a 6-user test over the course of 30 days to measure the impact access to public transportation has on the lives of asylum seekers. Our question was, how does access to transportation affect asylum seekers during the asylum seeking process? We wanted to measure their daily behaviors and changes in sentiments of inclusion. The user test included six asylum seekers residing within Stockholm, and included:
- one adult male (18-30 years old, group 1)
- one adult female (18-30 years old, group 1)
- one family with children (group 2): one husband/father (30-64 years old), one wife/mother (30-64 years old), and three children under 18 years old (not given an SL card as fitting within their parent’s SL ticket)
- one elderly couple (group 3): one husband (over 65 years old) and one wife (over 65 years old)
The study asked the participants to log their trips during a 30-day period from January 12 to February 11, during which they were given a 30-day Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL, translated as Greater Stockholm Local Transit) card with access to the entire SL public transport system. Our initial conclusion has been that accessing public transportation and experiencing communal living increased feelings of inclusion and promoted self-initiatives.