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Mobile Application For People On The Move With Facial Recognition/Biometric Two-Factor Authentication

Allows migrants a way to track family members, access money, store important documents & buy transportation tickets in one place.

Photo of Gabriela Rivas

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This application will be available for iPhone and Android and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play as a free app.  It will allow users to do the following directly from the application:

• Share their location with friends and family via SMS or email.

• Find family, friends and travel companions through geo-location through the app.

• Request or send money.

• Store copies of important documents like ID, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, custody of children, etc.

     Unlike other applications currently available, geared towards people on the move, users will not need to enter any personal information.  They will be able to create an account with an email and password.  The application also features additional security offering biometric identification either through using their fingerprint or taking a selfie as a secondary form of identity verification.  This two-factor identification allows for added security and user privacy.

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

According to the World Health Organization, "more people are on the move now than ever before. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today of whom 258 million are international migrants and 763 million internal migrants – one in seven of the world’s population. 68 million of the world’s internal and international migrants are forcibly displaced today." Through research, feedback from mentors, subject matter experts and speaking to migrants, I found that despite their reason for leaving their homes, most people on the move share some basic needs and concerns. I've identified these as follows: • Knowing the whereabout of family/friends/travel companions. • Staying in contact with their family back home. • Being able to access funds (money). • Using funds towards keeping on the move (buying bus, boat tickets, etc.). • Having access to personal documents without having physical copies because they get searched by police or get robbed. • Having to carry their own water supply. This application will be available for iPhone and Android and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. It will allow users to do the following directly from the application: • Share their location with friends and family via SMS or email. • Find family, friends and travel companions through geo-location through the app. • Request or send money. • Store copies of important documents like ID, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, custody of children, etc. Unlike other applications currently available, geared towards people on the move, users will not need to enter any personal information. They will be able to create an account with an email and password. The application also features additional security offering biometric identification either through using their fingerprint or taking a selfie as a secondary form of identity verification. This two-factor identification allows for added security and user privacy.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This is a global issue. People on the move generally travel to Sweden, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, France, Spain, etc. In Europe, most migrants come from the Middle East and Africa to escape global warming, drought, poverty, violence and religious persecution. In North America, a majority of migrants come from Central America and Mexico to escape poverty, violence, political corruption, gangs and lack of resources.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This idea aims to help people on the move's journey easier by keeping them connected to familial ties, funds and important documents so that they can more easily start over in their new country,

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

This app's true value is hopefully giving users a sense of keeping connected with their families because that support is invaluable and a feeling of security by having control of their information, money and privacy. After speaking with Mahmoud Ri and Pablo, a former migrant from Guatemala, I understood a lot better what it must be like to travel without access to funds and not be able to communicate with family. What a scary feeling to feel that disconnected from family and friends! Mahmoud was separated from his brother and had no idea where he was for months. Pablo said, "I could have died and nobody would have known." That's a pretty powerful statement. Also, how frustrating to have to travel with no money and depend on the kindness of strangers to get you through. I would have been in a constant state of anxiety, not able to sleep and probably made myself sick because of worrying so much.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

People on the move will be able to feel more in control of their journey and situation because they will be able to stay connected and can access money whenever they need it. I don't know how to answer the second question yet. Sorry.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

It's hard to ignore this situation. It's all over the news, internet, talk radio, podcasts, it's everywhere. Something needs to be done. I thought about music festivals and how attendees are given these cool, festive bracelets when they purchase their tickets. Each bracelet has a unique ID and is registered to that person. Concert attendees must where them in order to enter/exit the event. At some events, concert goers can link their credit/debit cards so they don't need cash at the event. I figured if we could do that for concerts, why not apply it to something like this. The technology is out there. It's cheap, easy to use and readily available. That was based on my original idea, now it's evolved quite a bit because of the research I've done and the conversations I've had with all these amazing people on the platform. The support I've received has been amazing. I feel honored that people shared their experiences with me, a total stranger. I'm grateful. Thank you.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Well, people on the move are scared, stressed, tired, hopeful and overwhelmed. They are in search of a better life and are facing some incredible obstacles on the journey to their destinations. Migrants are searched by police, belongings taken from them. Sometimes they are robbed, harmed, raped. Sometimes they get so close to their destination and are apprehended and sent back home. They have to travel at night, carry their own food and water. They stay with strangers and in out of the way places in order to not be seen. They travel by bus, air, boat or on foot and have to contend with unknown terrain, the elements and nature. It's a very unpredictable and high stress situation that can take days, months or even years.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

I'm a little unclear of what I'm being asked. Here's what I think you are asking. I've received a ton of support and amazing feedback from people on the OpenIdeo platform. It was great to hear everyone's ideas. Talking to others really helped me think about things from various angles that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Isaac, Bremeley, Mahmoud and Ashley have been a great source of help and support. Pablo, whom I've never met in person, was kind enough to let me interview him over the phone at the request of my cousin. His story was so insightful. All the documents and guides provided during this process have been really helpful when I felt lost or overwhelmed. It really does take a village to create change. I'm so glad that I submitted the proposal even if I had no idea what I was doing. I've learned so much. Most importantly, I realize there are people out there who will help you and see possibilities behind an idea or intention. That's so awesome! Thank you!

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

I would love to work more with Mahmoud, Isaac, Bremely, Ashley and OpenIdeo. ID2020 would be great to work with too. I'd love to bring Pablo on board if he's interested. I'm open to working with all types of stakeholders.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

I still don't know.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

I was born in El Salvador. My family migrated to the United States in 1980. I deeply identify with leaving family and being in an unfamiliar country with little to no resources. I also had to evacuate in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. I had to leave my home with one suitcase and my cat. I ended up in a Best Western in Savannah, Georgia for a few weeks. Then I moved to Chicago. I never went back to New Orleans. It caused the break up of my relationship, leaving me devastated. It took me years to recover. I'm still not the same.

Type of submitter

  • Other

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Los Angeles, CA

In preparation for expert feedback: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in these categories? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea. (600 characters)

1. What's more viable financially/technically to implement, the RFID or GPS tracking device? RFID?. Is a bracelet the right way to go or explore other forms of wearables? 2. Can this integrate with existing platforms to be more robust in terms of its usefulness. Maybe it can be more than just a tracking device, but also can have other information attached to it like concert bracelets do. Maybe can provide access to funds, bus fare, airline tickets, boat fees, etc. 3. Where can asylum seekers use application to track members? Should this be an admin side platform for organizations?

Did you use the resources offered during the Improve Phase (mentorship, expert feedback, community research)? (2000 characters)

Yes I did. I met with my mentor, Mahmoud via Skype. I learned so much during that conversation. I also kept in contact with him and Isaac Jumba via email throughout the process. I had many conversations with community members on the platform, receiving support and valuable insights. I submitted my questions for the subject matter expert and took them into account. I used a lot of the documentation provided by OpenIdeo and the methods suggested. It really helped to shape my idea by focusing on the value added and narrowing down the problem space I am solving form

In what ways would potential BridgeBuilder funds allow you to pursue your idea that other funding opportunities have not? (1000 characters)

I haven't pursued other funding opportunities so I have nothing to compare it to.

What aspects or proportion of the overall idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (1000 characters)

• Development/Design of mobile application - Hiring engineers/developers • Getting it into Google Play/App Store - Paying any fees associated with this • Marketing, social media, getting the word out - Presenting application to users and organizations

What are the key steps or activities for your idea for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (1000 characters)

• Defining a minimum viable product for first release. • Designing the interface. • Gathering user feedback on ways to improve key features. • Developing the application. • Identifying and meeting with possible partners like Venmo, Paypal and transportation companies. • Getting the word out about the application to organizations that have a strong voice within the migrant community all over the world

What will community-level impact look like over the timeframe of your idea? How will you determine whether or not you have achieved that impact? And what outstanding questions do you still have? (1000 characters)

Impact: By 2022, the aim is to have a strong migrant user base through initially marketing the app through organizations with a strong voice in the migrant community and word of mouth. Measurement: We could measure the number of downloads from the App Store and Google play as well as the number of registered users. We could also track what features are most used within the app - geolocation, accessing funds, purchasing transportation or uploading documents and expand/improve on the feature. We could try to reach out to user via email and get user feedback. Outstanding Questions: • What other tools would be useful to users besides the ones I've mentioned? • Is a wearable still a useful solution maybe not for tracking but for accessing funds or identification?

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (1000 characters)

I really don't have an answer. I can design the user experience and user interface. Mahmoud mentioned that he's studying computer science. He can be the developer if he wants. I need help with this. I don't really have a team yet besides people I've met on the platform.

I can add my co-worker Nasiha Solakovic.  She is a scrum master and product manager who has worked with various companies bringing a product to launch.  She herself is a refugee from Bosnia.  Here's her IG: and her LinkedIn:  She would be a great technical resource to help bring this app to fruition.  

Lastly, how did you apply new learnings to your idea? (1000 characters)

1. Brittany  helped me understand the importance of maintaining a user's privacy and focusing on it from a user's perspective instead of how to technically implement it. She also pointed out that I could expand the idea beyond just a tracking device to include accessing funds or transportation. I did address those things in my design. 2. Mahmoud pointed out that from a user's perspective, they may not want to give a lot of personal information out that could be accessed by other people/organizations. He said that users should be in control of their data and that they should be the only ones able to access it. He also mentioned that security is a factor too and that implementing some sort of facial recognition as a way to identify users would be useful. I did add that feedback to my design. I require users to sign in with email and password and use a secondary form of identification like taking a selfie for facial recognition. 3. Yes.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paola Vacirca

Hi Gabriela,
I love your idea! It's such an important issue that we need to solve as a country. I am not an expert in this field and I do not have answers to your questions.
However, I have heard of similar efforts being made (in larger scale, and it's still in ideation stage). You could find this website useful, and potentially find answers to your questions!
I wish you all the best with your proposal.

Photo of Gabriela Rivas

Hi Paola.Thank you so much for the moral support and the link! I'm so excited to learn about the initiative and that other people are involved in the effort! It's really cool. I'm requesting to join the effort as an individual. I think it would be an amazing experience and even more amazing to see it to fruition. Thanks again and best wishes to you in your endeavors.


Photo of Paola Vacirca

Hi Gabriela,

Thank you for your kind response! I was wondering, how's your proposal going? Have you found the answers to the questions you had?
I hope that my link proved to be helpful!


Photo of Gabriela Rivas

Hi Paola Vacirca 

Good to hear from you. I did find some answers. I collaborated with my co-workers to review costs and technical implementations. I also reached out to one of my contacts that is a partner at a design/development firm here in Los Angeles that designs for social good. It's called SPARK6. He said they would be willing to build it for around 75K. So that is promising!

How are you? What are you up to?

Photo of Paola Vacirca


I am so glad to hear that! It's so exciting to see that your proposal is moving forward. Having an initial cost estimate and a better sense of implementation is very promising!
I am good! I am a senior in college studying business, so I am mostly up to studying :)
But I am truly amazed and intrigued by your proposal, so I will keep checking in on you, if you don't mind.

I wish you all the best again! You got this :)


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