Participation & (Re)settlement : envisioning mobile services with young forced migrants

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In recent years, digital services have played a crucial role in the forced migration phenomenon worldwide. Researchers and practitioners in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information Science (IS) have explored the impact of digital solutions and proposed new approaches to tackle the specific conditions of forced migration. Nonetheless, several of the currently available digital services developed for this purpose have had limited participation of this group in their development process. Digital services could benefit from forced migrants’ participation during their design and development process. It could enhance the services to address more effectively forcibly displaced communities’ needs and challenges in the different phases of their involuntary displacement. This thesis focuses on the role and adaptation of participatory design (PD) approaches to create “safe spaces” where young forced migrants can be co-researchers on and co-designers of mobile (geospatial) services to support them upon arrival and during the first stages of their (re)settlement in the host cities. In such particular context, the current research has three main contributions. First, it identified a set of initial challenges and needs of forced migrants upon arrival and in the first stages of their (re)settlement in Münster, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. Second, it proposed adaptations on PD’s practices to effectively encourage young forced migrants’ participation codesigning their digital services. Lastly, it developed two augmented geovisualizations prototypes to assist with their navigation of host cities in such situation. The proposed PD adaptations combined core concepts and strategies from participatory research (PR), didactics, and PD such as “safe spaces”, didactic reduction, reflective thinking, and workshops. The open-source prototypes are based on combinations of static and dynamic geospatial augmentations (images and augmented reality) which were combined with digital maps. These solutions were tailored based on the feedback from the forcibly displaced populations participating. Their main aim was to ease forced migrants arrival in host cities by supporting their spatial familiarization with unknown urban environments. Overall, the contribution of this thesis advances on the generation of participatory approaches for forced migrants to design their digital services and technologies while supporting host cities in their processes towards generating more inclusive urban environments for all of its citizens.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
  • University of Münster
  • Universidad Jaume I
  • Kray, Christian, Supervisor, External person
  • Gould, Michael, Supervisor, External person
  • Oliveira, Tiago, Supervisor
Award date15 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • Digital services
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Information Science


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