RapidFTR (Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification)challenges-chat

Using mobile devices to speed up family tracing and reunification of unaccompanied and separated children in emergencies.

RapidFTR (Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification)


Start Date: 2010-01


Focus Areas: ,

Region: All

Country: ,

Keywords: mobile, emergencies, child...


Project Context:

RapidFTR helps humanitarian workers in emergencies quickly collect vital information from children who have been separated from their caregivers, and to share it securely with people who can get them help and find their families. The goal is not to rethink the steps aid workers take in order to reunite families. Instead, RapidFTR focuses on streamlining and speeding up a process that is already in place.

This open source mobile application was one of the first projects fully developed within the UNICEF Innovation ecosphere – It began as a student project in the Design For UNICEF class at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, which was taught by Professor Clay Shirky, and co-led by the UNICEF Innovations Team in New York. Upon graduation, the lead student, Jorge Just, joined UNICEF HQ to further develop RapidFTR, and now teaches the class it came from.

The project is being developed in partnership between the Child Protection section at UNICEF HQ and the Technology For Development team at UNICEF’s Uganda Country Office, with support from UNICEF's Innovation Team in New York.


Specialists from UNICEF, ICRC and key NGOs working in child protection in emergencies have consistently identified the need for enhanced tools to speed up the electronic documentation and usability of an unaccompanied or separated child’s essential information in rapid onset emergencies.

RapidFTR was originally conceived in late 2009 by a team of graduate students from NYU's Interactive Technology Program (ITP) during the ‘Design for UNICEF’ course, in consultation with UNICEF’s global Child Protection Specialist in Emergencies on Unaccompanied and Separated Children (Pernille Ironside). It was subsequently developed into an open source project and masters thesis led by one of the original students (Jorge Just).

In October 2010, the RapidFTR team went to Uganda to conduct exploratory research and testing with the help of officers from UNICEF’s Technology for Development and Child Protection sections. The team visited Gulu, Kitgum and Kampala. In Gulu and Kitgum, the team met with social workers for interviews and user tests, conducted a fact finding visit to an IDP camp to address questions about infrastructure. They met with a former child soldier to hear an in-depth account of the reunification process from his family's perspective. In Kampala, team members met with Child Protection Officers, social workers from community organizations, and government officials to assess how RapidFTR might be used in various

Child Protection contexts.

UNICEF’s vision is that RapidFTR becomes the standard tool used by all child protection and humanitarian organizations to document unaccompanied and separated children in an emergency. As the agency charged with leading child protection in emergencies globally, UNICEF intends to make RapidFTR available to other humanitarian organizations working with unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) in emergencies at the global and local levels as a contribution to advancing and facilitating collective work.

RapidFTR could become a standard component of emergency supply kits for UNICEF and other organizations. The technology’s versatility and open-source nature allows for each organization to use it on a device of their choosing without being locked into one type of technology. It will also be possible to customize the templates locally according to needs and to share data safely between organizations if necessary to facilitate coordination.

Localisation or Cultural Relevance:

While the focus of RapidFTR is on documenting children who are separated from their families and caregivers in an emergency, the technology has the potential to be applied much more broadly to document vulnerable children in a variety of contexts and for a variety of purposes. For example, an adaptation of RapidFTR could easily be used to support the electronic registration of children at birth, rather than using the manual ledger system that is prevalent in many countries. It could also be used to document children in residential care facilities, street children, children in exploitative environments, and children who are released or who escape from armed forces or groups, amongst others.

Meet The Team

No team members are working on this project yet.


Child Protection unit - UNICEF Programme Division
UNICEF Uganda Country Office

Technology for Development team work within UNICEF Uganda county office

Project Updates

New mobile application helps speed up family reunification for Congolese child refugees in Uganda

The application, RapidFTR, is designed to streamline and speed up family tracing and reunification. It is a data storage system that collects, sorts and shares information about unaccompanied and separated children in emergency situations.

1 year 4 weeks ago by bssorensen

We Need Volunteers!

RapidFTR is an open-source technology project driven by help from volunteers around the globe. We could use your help.

Visit RapidFTR.com to find out how to help.


Twitter and webfeeds

Follow RapidFTR on Twitter: @rapidftr

Website: RapidFTR.com

Source Code: Github.com/jorgej/rapidftr

RapidFTR Google Group: Sign Up (or just catch up) Here

CNN story on tracking Haiti's missing children

RapidFTR In Uganda