Refugee Digitisation System

  • - Ongoing


The Refugee Digitisation System was implemented in February 2016 in response to the approx. 1,1 million refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015. Due to the immense new data influx, authorities had to establish a coherent, uniform system to register and process refugee data. All relevant authorities now have access to a single core data system which is administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Information of an individual only needs to be provided once and can then be shared and re-used by the involved public administrations. 

How does it work? 

The data of an individual refugee such as name, civil status and contact info is provided by the refugee at first contact with a state authority. The responsible authority then updates the core data system. Through the core data system, the data can then be reviewed and re-used by all responsible authorities for their respective purposes. The registration of a refugee through this data system is now a prerequisite for all public services, e.g. accommodation, food, health services. With this new system, refugees are handed an ID card at first contact as an identifier which is needed in order to apply for asylum in Germany. To improve data quality, fingerprints are now used as a legal identifier instead of a name. 

The registration offices, local foreign affairs, the Federal Employment Agency, and NGOs can access the data system provided by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The Data Sharing Improvement Law (Jan 2016) provided the legal basis for the exchange of data among the relevant authorities. The system behind the data exchange builds on the already established data standard XAusländer. With the implementation of this Refugee Digitization System the data only has to be provided once by the refugee and can be used and shared with other relevant public administrations. 

What are the benefits and challenges? 

This mass migration provided public administrations in Germany with many challenges as there were numerous agencies providing services for refugees and registering incoming people before, using different IT systems. Refugees were sometimes registered multiple times due to misunderstandings or deliberate disguise. Translation errors or different alphabetical systems led to incorrect data entries due to spelling mistakes. Therefore, the registration procedure for refugees was digitally standardized in order to avoid previous mistakes and to establish a data system all relevant authorities would have access to.

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