Refugee resettlement in the U.S., by HIAS, using matching technology

from Market Design at on April 29, 2019 at 01:23PM

The Atlantic brings us up to date:
How Technology Could Revolutionize Refugee Resettlement
A software program called “Annie” uses machine learning to place refugees in cities where they are most likely to be welcomed and find success.

"Monken, an associate director at HIAS, a migrant-assistance charity, tells me Njabu and his family were specifically placed in Pittsburgh “because of the high employment probability forecasted by Annie.”

She was referring not to a person, but to a software program. Named for Annie Moore, the Irishwoman who was the first person to pass through Ellis Island, the New York outpost that served as the gateway for millions of immigrants to America, Annie is at the core of an ambitious experiment, one that, were it deployed more widely, could transform how refugees are allocated and treated around the world.

"Developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Lund University in Sweden, and the University of Oxford in Britain, the software uses what’s known as a matching algorithm to allocate refugees with no ties to the United States to their new homes. (Refugees with ties to the United States are resettled in places where they have family or community support; software isn’t involved in the process.)

"The software itself is in its infancy right now. For one, it is lacking in data: HIAS has been using Annie since last summer and has placed about 250 people via the software so far. There’s no exact number on how many refugees Annie must place in order to measure the program’s success. Instead, the software’s efficacy will be measured over several years and through the economic outcomes of the cases that go through the algorithm. Back-testing using data from previous years has yielded promising results, but the real outcomes will take a long time to discover. (Acquiring more data will be its own challenge: The Trump administration’s policy of reducing the number of refugees resettled in the United States means that last year the country accepted fewer refugees, just 22,491, than at any other point since President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act of 1980.)"
Here’s a website related to the algorithm and related academic work:

Resettlement that empowers refugees and communities

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If you would like to work with us on designing matching systems for refugee resettlement, please drop us a line."

Here’s an earlier post on this work:
Thursday, October 4, 2018