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How the UK is More Effectively Re-homing Refugees, Thanks to Quick Deployment of the Right Technology
When it comes to innocent civilians, there are no winners in a war. And as we all have experienced in recent weeks in Ukraine, seeing the devastation is heartbreaking, especially when you feel helpless to do anything about it.
However, while we cannot, as citizens, influence decisions or outcomes, we can help the people impacted by this conflict. We can help through monetary support, but also with placement management technology—which is exactly what HSO and Microsoft have done.
The challenge: Improve the process of rehoming refugees
For governments in many parts of the world that are dealing with the challenge of re-homing Ukrainian refugees, there is no panacea—no ready-made placement management technology solution—but efforts are being made. For example, in the UK, where nearly 66,000 refugees have already arrived as of the end of May 2022, the government created a system called Foundry to help with support the herculean effort to get them settled as quickly as possible.
Foundry contains all the data on those seeking refuge in the UK. A central place where these people can log their request and begin the process of rehoming, Foundry was built and deployed very quickly, so it is not ideally structured to accommodate those for whom English is not their first language. This has resulted in inconsistent, “messy” data that is difficult to manage. For example, something as basic as a person’s name can be an issue. In the UK and the US, the first and last name go in that order. However, in Ukraine, those are often reversed.
A tool with these shortcomings, coupled with a lack of resources to support the rehoming effort, left the UK government with a complex data set and an inefficient process. A solid placement management technology solution was needed.
The solution: Two providers partner to solve the placement management technology problem
HSO wanted to help, and so did Microsoft. Our Power Platform solution teams joined forces to discuss how best to help. We first met with a local authorities from around the UK to discuss the challenge of managing the process, identifying common themes and faults within it.
It quickly became clear where the problem lay: In the ability to join records with the relationships between families and sponsors, and then manage the approval and checking process in one place. This was being done with spreadsheets the local authorities had developed themselves. However, with all these different methods addressing the same need, things got messy.
HSO and Microsoft created a placement management technology application to streamline the checking and monitoring process of refugee placement, called Homes for Ukraine Click to Place. Click to Place is an easy-to-use, quick to deploy accelerator that integrates with the government Foundry system—a single solution that centralizes the flow of information across the entire settlement process. The solution can also adapt easily to rapidly changing requirements of local authorities.
Click to Place is built as a model-driven Power App on Microsoft’s Dataverse. The Dataverse-based back end is surfaced through the application. The entire solution resides in one place. There are other features, including an activities tracker and Outlook integration to streamline communications and collaboration.
As part of the placement management technology development, Microsoft built additional data flows to take the data from Foundry and put it directly into Dataverse, eliminating the need for manual upload of data. A secondary group, or a mirror group, of tables is where original records are cleaned up without losing valuable details.
The Click to Place solution can be used by any entity with the responsibility of re-homing anyone seeking refuge, whether temporary or permanent. It is a more efficient, effective way to connect those people with social housing or with sponsors offering accommodation.
The HSO UK team has done an amazing job with this project, and our company is proud to partner with Microsoft to help support such a critical need.
Learn more about Homes for Ukraine Click to Place:
Contributor: Petra Eimiller
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