App created to help immigrants, refugees

App created to help immigrants, refugees
Updated: Jan. 13, 2017 at 6:11 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Several groups around Louisville are coming together to create an app to help connect immigrants and refugees. The City of Louisville, several nonprofits and students at UofL are creating technology that will help connect thousands of immigr ants and refugees in the community to resources throughout the city.

In February, the Geographic Information Systems Department at the University of Louisville, will launch an app for computer or phone.

The information used to build the app was gathered during an event known as a hackathon.

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"Technology can make a difference in people's lives," UofL Professor DJ Biddle said.

Some of Biddle's students, along with other techies in the community contributed to the app.

"When they get to Louisville what are the challenges they face in terms of finding housing, finding ESL services, medical services," Biddle said.

The hackathon, was held in November.

Dozens of people scrubbed the internet finding resources available to immigr ants and refugees. Then they organized that information into one map.

"That eliminates that cumbersome process of locating stuff on the web," Biddle said.

During the hackathon, a profile of immigr ant and refugee groups was also created showing where resources are lacking.

"The way the city of Louisville likes to look at things is through the lens of data," Michael Schnuerle, City of Louisville Data Officer, said.

This was the first time the city partnered with the University to mine data and Schnuerle hopes to continue the relationship to explore a wide variety of topics.

"By putting that information together based on our data sources we get a more accurate picture than just talking to everybody individually," Schnuerle said.

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Schnuerle says the industry of Geographic Information Systems, known as GIS, helps run businesses and governments more efficiently.

Educators like Biddle say it is an exciting time to be in a market growing by an annual rate of 35% while helping the immigr ant group that is also growing in Louisville.

"We got a lot more work to do but we are going to get there for sure," Biddle said.

The app will be free and launch in February.

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