GLOBAL – In the realm of development and humanitarian work, an often-overlooked need is reliable and timely information that centers the needs of the affected community, rather than the responding agency. Putting the power of information into the hands of communities creates pathways for self-determination and agency. The Signpost Project empowers communities by giving them control over the information they need to solve problems and overcome challenges.
At the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) piloted a global initiative to meet this need through the first Signpost program, Refugee.Info. Signpost describes itself as the world’s first scalable approach to running digital, community-driven, and responsive information platforms in countries where people are impacted by conflict, disasters, poverty and violence. Signpost programs build on an existing evidence-base, combining cutting-edge technology with the deep contextual knowledge that only local communities have.
The aim of Signpost is to embed a community-led, responsive information service at the heart of every humanitarian context around the world, shifting the power of information and decision-making into the hands of the communities impacted by crises. Signpost begins with empowerment — giving people the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. It also builds programs through partnerships across industries and sectors and with leading technology companies such as Google, Zendesk, Cisco, and Meta to power a network of comprehensive, digital help centers.
Signpost programs connect clients to vital resources through regularly updated articles, videos, and geolocated service maps. Trained community members — researchers, writers and community liaisons that are from affected communities and civil society partners — respond to questions asked via social media and communications channels and learn about information needs from their two-way discussions. Content is created based on localized trends, and questions from communities drive the creation of new information products.
In 2020, Signpost initiated a rapid scaling phase, launching new programs in over 20 countries across five continents — bringing community-led, responsive information services to crisis contexts around the world. Signpost has also allocated resources specifically for populations that are often overlooked and may not receive global attention. Since its inception in 2015, Signpost has made a remarkable impact, reaching 58 million people with valuable information products. On top of that, it has connected with 8 million unique users who have engaged with Signpost platforms. The program has fostered meaningful interactions, with over 137,000 individuals directly receiving personalized responses from community liaisons.
We are happy to announce Signpost as a finalist of the Connect category, as it turns division into unity by connecting information providers and crisis-affected communities — allowing communities to drive and control the content they receive. Through its work, Signpost addresses the Health and Well-being of people affected by crises, promotes Equality and supports Partnerships. Signpost connects communities to the resources and support available to them, ultimately empowering individuals to choose their own path — and safeguarding their agency and dignity in the process.