HENSOLDT Analytics was present last year at the “Migration in Focus” conference, which took place in Malta, on the 15-16th of December, 2021; the conference was organized as part of the MIRROR H2020 Project.
The Migration in Focus conference acted as an interactive platform fostering debate on the most challenging and novel issues in the field of migration. The main focus of the conference was identifying novel ways to fill in “informational gaps” in formulating and deploying policies and humanitarian responses targeting migrants.
As members of the MIRROR Project Consortium and leaders of the Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation Work Package, our Research team was highly involved in the organization and coordination of the conference. Dr Katja Prinz, EU Research & Innovation Manager at HENSOLDT Analytics, was present during the whole conference in the historic Fort St. Elmo in Malta, and gathered valuable insights from all the participants.
Highlights of the Migration in Focus Conference
The highlight of the event was the fact that, during a pandemic, such a conference, involving personal interaction, was even possible. After a long time of online meetings and presentations, members of the project Consortium were able to socialize in person again.
As Dr Katja Prinz points out, among the highlights of this particular conference were the participants themselves. “The focus of the “Migration in Focus” conference was clearly set to engage with Humanitarian organizations, which made this event truly unique and heart-warming.” said Dr Katja Prinz, “since the majority of the presenters or participants are spending their professional lives to help others.”
Another exceptional ingredient was the site itself: Malta, as we have learned from Prof. Cannataci has a very long history of migration, due to its position in the middle of two different worlds – the East and the West. The conference site was in the middle of the historic Fort St. Elmo, a place of great strategic and military importance, as it overlooks the bay and harbor and “welcomes” every migrant.
Most Important Findings from the Event
Since the proportion of the conference was reduced to fit current health standards and regulations, the atmosphere of the event was warm and intimate, and participants felt free to express their experiences in the field of migration as well as to share their honest feedback about the work carried in the MIRROR platform.
The insights gained proved helpful in further developing the platform and in conducting future research, specifically when it comes to choosing sources of information strongly related to migrants.
Our team also learned about the challenges humanitarian organizations are facing and the problems they are trying to solve in the field of migration. As pointed out by Dr Sunjic, in the field of migration research, communication very often takes place on a so called “meso” level – i.e. the community level. It is in the community where perceptions are created and opinions are formed. This means that, in order to research and reach these groups, one particularly has to focus on communication within the community (as opposed to other channels like formal communication by government authorities, or communication done at a micro level i.e. individual decision making).
Lessons Learned by Our Team
Our research team was reminded with this occasion that being a researcher also entails to “think outside the bubble”. Conducting research means leaving your comfort zone and actively working against one’s ‘confirmation bias’, which is undoubtedly not always easy.
As HENSOLDT Analytics is the leader of the Exploitation Work Package, part of our work refers to gathering insights from the targeted markets and integrate the end-users’ perspective and feedback into the final product. The discussion brought by the “Migration in Focus” conference and the experts who actively participated in the event, greatly helped us to improve our scientific approach and gave us additional insights directly formulated by our target audience.
Within the H2020 MIRROR Project, HENSOLDT Analytics leads WP4 on Text Analysis Methods for Social and Traditional Media and WP11 on dissemination and exploitation. The company also fills the role of the Community Liaison Manager of the project, pro-actively establishing a robust network of stakeholders and diverse communities.
The MIRROR project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation action program under grant agreement № 832921.