Digitalization as Enabler

Digitalization as Enabler

Re-Connecting Families in Time of War

Not Pursued


More than one million families are separated due to conflicts.


An analytics solution implemented throughout the ICRC’s global operations will resolve missing person cases

What’s the challenge you’re trying to solve?

The problems are legal and technical. The platform must comply with data privacy requirements and be usable by non-experts. Data ownership, access rights and data privacy issues must be addressed. A technology that integrates internal and external data sources, data fusion, search mechanisms and text and image analytics must be brought together to extract relevant information from large data volumes.

What are your goals and milestones?

Within a year, the ICRC and EPFL will resolve three cases in which a missing person is identified through analysis of publicly available data, in compliance with safety and data protection standards. Insights gained will provide evidence of the overall potential of data analytics to find missing persons, and identify which sources of information and technologies have the largest potential for identification of missing persons.

What’s your approach?

Digital information can be exploited to make the search for missing persons significantly more successful and efficient. The specific circumstances of crisis-ridden areas and their requirements in order to protect the individual must be taken into account. The ICRC will use lessons learned to build sector-wide standards in the search for missing persons in humanitarian crises.

What’s the impact your aiming for?

Healing cannot happen for more than a million families who do not know the fate of missing relatives, and the scars of war will continue to mark the history of entire families and communities. This can lead to unbearable suffering; the right to know the fate of missing loved ones is at the core of humanity, making this a truly people-focused challenge.