Vital Information Agency (VIA) is an innovative platform that organizes the knowledge of local media, civil society, and humanitarian agencies. Through a secure mobile app, VIA will connect displaced people with information from a network of verified sources, with localized information designed to be relevant to them. This includes information that humanitarian agencies are trying to deliver more efficiently, such as relief and medical announcements, but also a wide array of information that local organizations more efficiently collect
job announcements, first aid and safety advice, road closures, etc. Through a customized content management system, partner organizations can provide information that gives users a live picture of their community, including the events, conditions, dangers, and resources that are available, and receive feedback from users.
IDPs often lack the local networks through which they might ordinarily hear about resources available to them. For example, surveys implemented by REACH in Al-Hol IDP camp in Northeastern Syria in 2019 found that 68% of respondents learned about humanitarian aid distributions through word of mouth. This indicates a dire lack of information and high vulnerability to disinformation.
In our surveys of IDP camps, we found that the majority of families had access to a smartphone – but they could afford less than 1 hour of internet per day, on average. By centralizing essential information from a range of sectors
including local media, humanitarian agencies, local administration, etc.
into one platform that can sync without an internet connection, we not only help displaced people access aid, but empower them to be resilient. With status updates from hospitals, they can more quickly access care. With information about the status of schools, roads, and other infrastructure they can keep their family safe, while notifications about job announcements, financial services and exchange rates help them improve their livelihood. VIA empowers displaced people with information that helps them manage daily life through a free one-stop-shop solution.