IPL’s GeoMatch tool, designed to aid immigrant integration and refugee resettlement programs, is headed toward pilot-tests in Canada and the Netherlands, with support from two new funders.
How do countries ensure that immigrants and refugees are able to make the most of their new homes—succeeding economically and integrating into their community? Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) researchers have been tackling this problem with an algorithm-based tool called GeoMatch, which helps governments match new immigrants to locations where they each are most likely to succeed.
IPL is collaborating with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) in The Netherlands to explore pilot programs for GeoMatch. Now that effort will be boosted by new grants from J-PAL Europe and Stanford Impact Labs.
In an interview with Stanford Impact Labs, Jennifer Fei, IPL senior program manager, explains the need for this tool and the struggles that immigrants and governments face in its absence:
When immigrants are unable to gain a foothold, climb the economic ladder, and integrate in this holistic sense, there is potential for public backlash and policies restricting immigration. Our goal is to provide governments and immigrants new data-driven tools to help them to choose the most beneficial location, using insights from rich historical data and human-centered artificial intelligence.
Sjef van Grinsven, project leader at COA in the Netherlands, elaborates on the opportunities GeoMatch presents for improved refugee integration:
The Immigration Policy Lab will be able to provide us with access to analytical methods and capabilities that will unlock insights about historical refugee integration and help inform future program and policy design… Although there have been studies about the characteristics of refugees and their relation with integration outcomes in the Netherlands, these studies haven’t led to concrete tools to use these insights directly in the work process. Until now.
In addition to the benefits for immigrants, the collaboration with IPL will help the government learn and innovate, says IRCC’s Patrick McEvenue:
This sort of personalized resource for immigrants would be the first of its kind, and we continue to explore how this work could inform economic immigrants coming through the Express Entry process. This could also help us better understand how immigrants make decisions and learn more about the determinants of successful immigration.