This article is available also in spanish here
We need to look at refugee camps as urban spaces
My list

Author | Anna SolanaAn interview with Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world’s leading authorities on humanitarian aid, founder of Switxboard and former manager of the largest camp for Syrian refugees. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on humanitarian aid and he is convinced that technology is giving poorer people a chance to progress. Kilian Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in various camps and operations worldwide. In 2014, he started his own aid consultancy, Switxboard, a connectivity project to “democratize access to global knowhow”. Still, he believes that “the human element has to be maintained”.What do you most look forward at the start of your day?I basically try to solve logistics… I believe there’s an answer to most problems we face. Mobility is part of our world and I try to address this issue. The reasons for displacement today are far more complex than those envisaged by the 1951 Convention.How can we best support people who have been displaced?There are 21M refugees and 40M internally displaced people around the world in need of solidarity, but this is a small portion of the people on the move globally. People move because of extreme poverty, climate change and few as they are partof the global privileged mobility community. Thus, it’s all about getting back to basic principles. We are one world and some of us have been luckier than others. Hence, global solidarity is crucial because some have largely benefitted from the resources of others.Do you think citizens are concerned with this particular issue in a scenario with growing inequalities in the developed world?It’s a reality. You cannot exclude people because they are too far away. That is the price we have to pay for a globalized world. People feel afraid, and angry and compassionate at the same time. In fact, we have never had more mobilized people than now. In that sense, it’s not a bad period. Hence, we can and must try new strategies. The sustainable development goals are not a socialist fantasy. They have to be realized for all of us to survive!In that sense, you claim that charity of the 20th century needs to be replaced with connectivity of the 21st… What do we need to turn this will into a reality?According to the 2015 ITU report on global connectivity, the proportion of the global population covered by mobile-cellular networks is now over 95%. Still, connectivity is not perfect. So we are just beginning to redistribute resources, with incredible technologies being developed. Africa is a perfect example. There are 700M of mobile phones there and this figure is growing. Nairobi has been working in a couple of projects related with phone connectivity. There are also some ongoing research and projects to deliver vaccines using drones. People want to take care of themselves and not to be dependent on aid. With these technologies they have a chance to progress. Connectivity and access to knowledge is the only chance to lower the divide between the rich and the poor. Likewise, the progress of the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to impact almost every social and economic sector, including education and health. There are 16 billion connected machines today and 40 billion are expected to be in use in five years. The new generation of technology, including the processing and analysis of new data, can provide a lot of opportunities if we democratize it.Yet, people need to get access to technology and get the ability to use it. How can we promote this kind of initiatives when governments think about refugee camps as temporary places?There is a big need to change the way we look at camps. They are not storage facilities; they are living spaces. The average refugee spends 17-20 years in displacement, according to the UN. That’s a generation. Thus, we have to look at camps as living places and we have to stop looking at refugees as helpless victims. In doing that, we are also preventing these people from thinking they are living in a limbo period, waiting for something to happen. We are contributing to lessening tensions, and promoting the reconstruction of societies. This situation offers opportunities for change. We need to look at camps as urban spaces and invest into structures that make that places sustainable and independent from charity aid, instead of wasting money in unsustainable initiatives. The logic will have to be a city development logic linked to social and sustainable investment and service delivery.In 2014, you started your own aid consultancy to building up the bridge between those who have the knowledge, the technology, the financial resources and those who don’t have them. What are the projects you are carrying up?Switxboard is a project of ultimate global connectivity. It should become an artificial intelligence tool with a human element, able to connect the resources and the technologies, able to connect the world’s capacities with the world’s needs, like a humanitarian Tinder or something. We are already working in disruptive technologies such as Open Ware FabLabs, i.e. high-tech maker-spaces designed to enable refugees, startups and communities to co-create innovative solutions; or a concept called Refugee Open Cities (ROC21) to transform camps into inclusive cities, bunk bed-halls into makerspaces and emergency homes into self-sustaining living environments. These are just a couple of examples. We have to break up with the idea that if you’re poor, it’s all only about survival. Project Switxboard will lead to the building of the world largest corporation without headquarters and hierarchy. The organization of the future is actually composed of millions of small units getting together when and where needed.What kind of city/place would you like to live in in 20 years?In a few years, 75% of the world population will live in cities. The movement towards cities is unstoppable, but most of them are not very well managed yet. So, we have to invest in better managing urban spaces as for people their village or city is more important than their State. As for me, I would like to live outside big cities and visit them just from time to time.Can a congress like SCEWC help develop smarter and resilient cities able to cope with crisis?Walking around SCEWC and seeing smart technologies is great and mindboggling, but I would focus on management and inclusive participation. In fact, I think it is crucial not to think about smartness only in technology terms.Image | Kilian Kleinschmidt, Networker Global and Switxboard founder.

Related Content
What is the impact of child labor?
What is the impact of child labor?
Auckland has become the world’s most liveable city
Auckland has become the world’s most liveable city
Prediction: Future Cities Will be Filtered Through the 15-Minute Framework
Prediction: Future Cities Will be Filtered Through the 15-Minute Framework
Stanford researchers will use the Korean ‘smart city’ of Songdo as a living laboratory
Stanford researchers will use the Korean ‘smart city’ of Songdo as a living laboratory
The six best cities in the world to live and raise a family
The six best cities in the world to live and raise a family
Which are the leading smart cities in Europe?
Which are the leading smart cities in Europe?
COVID and poverty: its impact on cities
COVID and poverty: its impact on cities
Cancer and cities: risk factors and solutions for an increasingly urban society
Cancer and cities: risk factors and solutions for an increasingly urban society
Technology and equitable education: promises and obstacles of a looming revolution
Technology and equitable education: promises and obstacles of a looming revolution
How can cities help visually impaired people?
How can cities help visually impaired people?
How can cities improve the quality of life of disabled people?
How can cities improve the quality of life of disabled people?
How India wants to become the future of smart cities
How India wants to become the future of smart cities
Coworking spaces: how cities are adapting to this new work concept
Coworking spaces: how cities are adapting to this new work concept
It’s 2021. Why Are Public Spaces & Roads Still Unsafe For Women?
It’s 2021. Why Are Public Spaces & Roads Still Unsafe For Women?
5 signs that a city needs to urgently change in order to stay alive
5 signs that a city needs to urgently change in order to stay alive
These are the reasons why people abandon their city
These are the reasons why people abandon their city
Creating opportunities for a better future with the Tel-Aviv foundation
Creating opportunities for a better future with the Tel-Aviv foundation
[ui!] Urban Software Institute: Mobility for your whole life
[ui!] Urban Software Institute: Mobility for your whole life
Will there be a digital divide between smart and dumb cities?
Will there be a digital divide between smart and dumb cities?
Smart tourism destinations: the challenge of achieving a harmonious balance between industry and habitability
Smart tourism destinations: the challenge of achieving a harmonious balance between industry and habitability
Makerspaces for economic development and social cohesion
Makerspaces for economic development and social cohesion
Health, well-being and happiness should be core in urban design
Health, well-being and happiness should be core in urban design
Success story: the transformation of Singapore into a sustainable garden city
Success story: the transformation of Singapore into a sustainable garden city
Co-living or shared houses: A smart solution for cities?
Co-living or shared houses: A smart solution for cities?
Cities and maternity: how new urban planning can help with pregnancy and breastfeeding practices
Cities and maternity: how new urban planning can help with pregnancy and breastfeeding practices
Technology in schools with an impact in and out of the classrooms
Technology in schools with an impact in and out of the classrooms
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
Digital natives, technological illiterates?
Can we combat poverty with an app?
Can we combat poverty with an app?
Welcome to Vienna, the World’s best city to live in
Welcome to Vienna, the World’s best city to live in
Helsinki: opening new frontiers in digital tourism
Helsinki: opening new frontiers in digital tourism
Why we'll live in a Smart City: infographic
Why we'll live in a Smart City: infographic
Connected culture: libraries, educational programmes and idea laboratories that transform a city
Connected culture: libraries, educational programmes and idea laboratories that transform a city
Emotional Salary, a revolution for a new labour market
Emotional Salary, a revolution for a new labour market
Cities are aging with their population: challenges and solutions for an inverted pyramid
Cities are aging with their population: challenges and solutions for an inverted pyramid
Is it possible to save suburbs from themselves?
Is it possible to save suburbs from themselves?
How technology is changing the way children think and focus
How technology is changing the way children think and focus
How cities around the world are tackling poverty
How cities around the world are tackling poverty
Huawei Intelligent Operation Center: The brain and central nervous system of a Smart City
Huawei Intelligent Operation Center: The brain and central nervous system of a Smart City
SCHRÉDER EXEDRA: Lighting up cities
SCHRÉDER EXEDRA: Lighting up cities
What kind of city do adolescents want? One that combines a technological future with the need for boundaries
What kind of city do adolescents want? One that combines a technological future with the need for boundaries
We need to look at refugee camps as urban spaces
We need to look at refugee camps as urban spaces
The cost of high density
The cost of high density
The challenge of redesigning cities to adapt to an ageing population
The challenge of redesigning cities to adapt to an ageing population
Technology to fight child exploitation: a tool not to be underestimated
Technology to fight child exploitation: a tool not to be underestimated
Sameh Wahba, World Bank:
Sameh Wahba, World Bank: "Policies that can enable the creation of denser cities may be fiscal but also administrative"
Radical inclusion: a new urban paradigm
Radical inclusion: a new urban paradigm
Paraisópolis, Brazil. A city of favelas aiming to be egalitarian, sustainable and accessible
Paraisópolis, Brazil. A city of favelas aiming to be egalitarian, sustainable and accessible
Over-planning and the risk of creating less inclusive cities
Over-planning and the risk of creating less inclusive cities
Smart Innovation & City Progress in Disruptive Times: How cities are using disruption to accelerate innovation
Smart Innovation & City Progress in Disruptive Times: How cities are using disruption to accelerate innovation
New ways of travelling after the COVID-19 pandemic
New ways of travelling after the COVID-19 pandemic
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
MS
Mariama Sall
Paeria Lleida
Councillor
JR
J Luis Rubiés
ISACA BCN CHAPTER
VP
Annette Abstoss
Annette Abstoss
Abstoss World Gastronomy SL
Impulsing ideas, projects and strategies for the food & hospitality business.
roberto ferlito
roberto ferlito
nábito architects
Founder
Patricia Lobato
Patricia Lobato
Fitness Solutions
Director
TS
Techeus Silva
Cyberhero
Marketing
MS
Marta Serra Fontalba
Can Corda
Manager
hk
heungsoo kim
mirangcurl
owner
fa
fariba amighi
tehran municipality information and information organization
technical expert
PT
Patricia Terrazas
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
Investigador
PG
Pepe Gutierrez
Administrapolis
Ceo
Michael Leyson
Michael Leyson
The Leyson Report / The Institute For Healthcare Management & Innovation
Founder & CEO
ND
Nestor Deangelo
Colegio María Ward
Teacher
MT
Mohamed Tatanaki
Roken Al Khalig
N/a
Musfi Musfi Yuliadi
Musfi Musfi Yuliadi
Pasarmu.id
Business Development Director
Karina Simieli
Karina Simieli
Reus Ciutat Savia social lab
Representant
Andres Rangel
Andres Rangel
OPC
Project Director
JP
Jonathan Pranata
-
student
MC
Mariana Colman
Tu Dublin
Student
NL
Natalie Lowe
TSEF
Owner

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$