Developing tools to personalize integration efforts in the refugee context.

In 2016, Berlin, Germany saw mass migration of displaced individuals from the middle-east. It was in this context that I went to Berlin, to understand the situation better, and try to answer 2 questions— What does integrating into an alien society mean for a person? And how can design thinking help catalyse this integration?

The project was called 'reboot', and the key outcomes included:

  • Workshop toolkit & pilot
  • Website— documentating project case study, service strategy & workshop toolkit
5 months (Apr ’16 - Aug ’16)
Project Name
Design Research . Service Design

Reboot in a Nutshell

Over 3 months of immersion & research in the refugee context, one insight particularly stuck out— Although there were several organisations in Berlin, tending to the many social, emotional, legal & financial needs of the newcomers, information about these initiatives wouldn’t always reach them.

Making this the focus of the project, reboot grew into an information dispensation system, of which, the workshop was a critical touchpoint— one that was piloted, and tested at the time. In a nutshell, this is how the system would work:


Focussing on people from the refugee community AND the ones working in refugee aid organisations, my methods included formal/informal chats, card-sorting-and-sketching-sort-of activities, and a LOT of fly-on-the-wall observation at integration events.

One standout observation during the research phase was that, inspite of the large number of integration initiatives and events across Berlin at the time, a large faction of the newcomers were quite unaware of these.

Using tools like archetypes & journey maps I dug deeper into this observation and new insights started to emerge. Opportunities surfaced and ideas started to take form.

Synthesis in progress...
Defining archetypes
Plotting out each archetype's journey when participating in an integration event.

Project Definition & System Map
Reboot aims to facilitate progressive refugee integration, through a personalised & easy-to-access information delivery system, that engages them in integration programmes.

System Map: How the information delivery system would work

Designing the workshop toolkit
The workshop was a crucial touch point within the proposed system, so that's the one I decided to develop and test.

How can the workshop activity help participants articulate their aspirations & skills, and thereby chart out a roadmap for their futures? With this as the starting point, I followed the build early—test—iterate process, and developed the toolkit.


1 | Workshop toolkit & pilot
The workshop was piloted with 12 participants in partnership with a local organisation called Refugee Academy. A great deal of learnings came out of it, which paved the way forward for this project.

2 | Website: toolkit, case study, service strategy
The entire project case study, service strategy and workshop toolkit was documented comprehensively on the reboot website with the intention to make the toolkit as well as the learnings from the project, easily understandable and accessible to the folks working in the refugee context.

And then what happened?

Unfortunately the project was stalled due to an unplanned departure from the country. However, the project case study & workshop toolkit linger on in the form of a website, which you can access here: