Doctors of the World charity launches #RefugeesWelcome interactive map


By Michael Feeley, Founder and chief exec

September 10, 2015 | 2 min read

Humanitarian aid charity Doctors of the World has teamed up with digital agency Impero to create a real-time visualisation of all the positive things being tweeted by the UK general public about refugees and migrants.

The map uses the Twitter streaming API to capture tweets in real-time.

The interactive map of Europe aims to capture the good feeling around refugees and migrants in the UK, showing all tweets in real-time, and plotting them along the routes where thousands risk their lives every day for a better life.

The map works by using the Twitter streaming API to capture tweets as they happen, pushing new tweets into the browser using WebSockets (with help of and node.js). We discussed the use of a variety of key words and hashtags to identify relevant tweets and sentiment tracking to ensure that these are positive.

Leigh Daynes, executive director of Doctors of the World UK, said: “We used to get a deluge of negative comments whenever we spoke about our work helping refugees in Calais and the Mediterranean but recently we’ve been inundated with messages of support, offers of practical help and cash donations.

“A noticeable shift in attitudes came after the shocking image of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi was published. We wanted a way to visualise this outpouring of empathy and to do this we worked with Impero to create this real-time visualisation of public sentiment. It can be quite hypnotic.”

Michael Scantlebury, creative director and founder of Impero, said: "We wanted our contribution to help drive change - and by visualising the very real issues faced by refugees in combination with positive stories of support throughout Europe, the map offers an accessible way for Britons to understand the current crisis. Partnering our creative and technical teams with the expertise of Doctors of the World has produced an awareness tool that we believe can have real impact.”

Impero is an independent creative, digital and social agency based in London and Sydney.

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