Akanksha Gupta, Jennifer Wieskopf, Rotem Fisch, Lisa Cagnin, Elisa Pirola (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)

Giving citizenship in exchange for data tracking

Rebirth is a data-driven system run by a private enterprise that enables international mobility. It offers a means for people without proper documentation to obtain a legal footprint and empowers them to change their fate. Immigrants are relocated to suit the demand of private companies, which employ them. Governments guarantee legal citizenship to those enrolled in the program in exchange for data tracking to monitor immigration flow, through an ‘immigrant cloud’, which is a database that acts as a legal digital footprint.


  • akriti

    This is very relevant, consisting the current political landscape across the globe. There is going to be inevitable complexity to the actual implementation, and subsequent implications, but the thought definitely holds a lot of potential.

    • jennw

      Thank you! Yes, as you mention, the complexities wil be extensive. We believe it is important to support the individual in many ways, as a robust network that assists in terms of the legal ability to migrate, guidance for accessing social services as needed, and also a community support systems to help the individual develop a sense of belonging and become a contributing and thriving member of society.

  • fabio

    I like the fact that the concept acknowledges both possible scenarios. It’s interesting to see the dual dynamics of power between the citizen and the state.

    • akanksha

      Yes, because both the scenarios are very plausible. The one where this private enterprise becomes very strong and the citizen feels imprisoned can take a dangerous route though. The important thing is to find that right balance of power.

    • dass

      I was also glad to see the two possible scenarios at the end. Shows the realistic and open thinking of the team.

  • ragav208

    This sounds like an especially good idea considering how populist right wing rhetoric often paint immigrants as threats. Government backed data tracking might help undo some of the fear-mongering.

    • ibrida

      True. Fear – mongering is one of the biggest problems when talking about immigration. Stronger control over the whole issue could provide some respite.

    • larry

      Public perception of Immigrants is going to be a key area requiring education, Building a welcoming attitiude will most likely a more complicated, delicate and challenging problem then the technology.

  • froth

    Interesting idea. So important on our current climate.

  • suyog

    It’s a nice idea but I did not understand the role of data as a mean for governmental organisations.

    • akanksha

      The role of data here is quite essential.
      With the immigrants being monitored and tracked, it reduces the risk of illegal immigration. The data cloud that gathers all this information about the immigrant also keeps in check the access to the public services. Governments can plan in advance looking at these numbers on how to deal with it. Further, if you look at it from a long term perspective, it keeps tracking the family chains and resources available for them.

      • jennw

        Another element to keep in mind is that since we are thinking of 2030 and beyond rather than today, we envision every individual having their personal data cloud – a digital footprint in place of, for example, a physical passport, etc. We think for example of future uses of blockchain technology perhaps. That way when someone coming from a country without legal papers, this program initiates their cloud – joining this program will have regulation around it and government agreements, which can all be verified seamlessly and with accuracy. On the flip side, if the newcomer causes problems in a new country, they are held accountable as their cloud access could theoretically be denied with appropriate reason.

  • shreya

    I like the idea of bringing a regulation for immigrants in crisis. However, will this promote more immigration? and would the local citizens be happy with these new immigrants?

    • jennw

      Thanks for your comments. Our starting point is that immigration is a reality already today, and that there are many dangers migrants face in the current reality. With this concept we strive to conquer this two-fold. First, it promotes immigration when there is a system to help integrate the newcomer, fostering positive migration and future life experiences (e.g. have a job match, training and education set up prior to migration). Second, the structured regulation and tracking acts as a ‘guarantor’ to mitigate the fear of the unknown for local citizens. Our hope is that over time the successful functioning of the program and integration of migrants would turn the possible apprehension of locals towards immigrants into a welcome addition to their country.

  • akanksha

    The local citizens will be more confident about the immigrants, as these immigrants are chosen and legally brought on shore (which reduces illegal immigration – the real problem). Further, data tracking could ensure more trust by the locals in the system.

  • ibrida

    I like this idea of having a private enterprise as the mediator between immigrants and governments. For eg, German government may not have the jurisdiction to rule over and take action in a different country, however, this being a private association can manage these tricky legal situations. But we need to understand the power of this enterprise with respect to the government.

    • fabio

      However, the risks associated with granting a similar power to a private company should not be underestimated, especially if it is not a non-profit organization. that large amount of personal data would be in safe hands?

  • anmol

    Not considering migrants as a threat, that’s the approach we need for a happy future. We need to understand that a migrant once provided with a safe haven will be a citizen tomorrow. I like both the approaches and looking forward to some real-time application.

    • akanksha

      Migrants/ Immigrants as future citizens. That’s an important aspect of this concept. Thanks for bringing it out for discussion.

    • jennw

      Thanks. We believe that using data for transparency can de-risk immigration towards a more collaborative and receptive future.

  • dass

    Tricky but great idea!

  • fabio

    Yes, the migrant should not be seen as a threat, but also not considered as a person who is in debt to the society. He should not have to earn the right to aspire a dignified life. In my vision of the future, I would like a migrant to be treated with same respect as a local citizen.

  • anna2

    Mi sembra un progetto sicuramente interessante e stimolante, che potrebbe portare a risolvere alcuni problemi sul tema dell’immigrazione.
    Mi viene comunque da chiedermi quali benefici potrebbero trarre le compagnie per cui andrebbero a lavorare gli immigrati?

  • dhruvg

    It’s a very interesting concept.
    While due to the massive undocumented immigration on back of social, economic and geopolitical reasons in recent years (Military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the Civil War in Syria, Mexicans crossing the border for a better life in the US etc.), immigration has become a political hot potato with governments promoting the rights of natives ahead of migrants. But perhaps the situation in 2030 can become more positive. With economies like Japan, the UK and the US among many facing an ageing population may show more leniency towards migrants policies in the future. A recent study by the IMF in 2016 also suggested that 1% of the migrant’s population contributes up to 2% to the countries GDP, as well as the 2nd generation of immigrants, have a better contribution to the countries taxes as well to employment generation. I also think human rights of the migrants will play a massive role in this programme. For instance, how the country of UAE drew criticism for human rights violations of many migrants they sourced from developing and under-developed economies to get cheap labour for their massive infrastructure push.
    As suggested by many on this forum, protection of Data will be very important and the governments will have to play a crucial role in this.
    I hope this concept could be taken as a base by the future governments to promote the global citizen programme in a developed global economy.
    Kudos to the team for showing both sides of the coin and initiating this idea.
    All the best guys.

    • akanksha

      Thank you for highlighting the current scenario that we are living in. Immigration is one of the biggest issues globally. Our attempt with ‘Rebirth’ is to initiate a positive dialogue on this matter, one where both natives and migrants can feel ‘at home’.
      The provocative nature of this concept while acknowledging both sides of the story was very important, to not come across as a capitalist third party trying to overthrow governments.
      Thank you again for backing up the concept with this data.

  • beyza

    It is really good to see possible scenarios to understand the long term impact of the project. Contribution of former rebirth immigrants is a good opportunity which you uncovered to empower the system. I am curious how this system can be applied for the refugees who come from war territories?

  • benz

    The concept shows the good intension and solution which current available technologies to make everything well-manage and easier. For me, the system and the approach are realistic and tangible, But, for the solution itself, it can also create new unexpected issues and questions; such as, how we ensure the effectiveness of job matching ?, how we mange if the solution effect to local people’s unemployment? or even the immigration to work in foreign country is the only solution for improve quality of life, or else? and the last thing is I don’t understand the difference between scenario A and B.

    • akanksha

      Thank you. You pointed out two really important things here.
      1. Is employment the only way to improve the quality of life?
      We believe that an employment opportunity could just be a starting point. It provides them with a respectable job and an earning source, and a way to support their families. It also guarantees families with better lifestyle, education and health facilities. So, it starts with employment but wants to navigate into a wider area.

      2. Would it result in local unemployment?
      The proportion of the local and immigrant needs to be maintained as per government regulations, employment and public health quota. We are trying to reduce illegal immigration. That is, immigration already exists, illegal immigrants are already working small jobs, but we want to make them legal and have a more structured plan. With this, if the local was already employed, had a suitable job, nothing changes for him.
      We need to also look at job creation aspect. Various sectors such as building and construction sector, as always looking for more hands to contribute.

  • sruthy

    Very interesting and innovative concept, good work. I wish you could explain more on how the data would be useful for the Govt other than surveillance and also think about the consequences of having the data of the immigrants from the immigrants point of view and its implications on their lives. And as Benz commented above, in 2030 would immigration would still be there to EU nations and would that be a solution for improving quality of life for a vast number of people?

  • rishabh

    I like that you were trying to show the outcomes in the most genuine way possible by showing both negative and positive outcomes. The concept is really nice. A lot of people are looking for a fresh start. This might just be what is needed.

  • studiodot

    interesting concept! really like the idea behind it.
    However, I am curious about this ‘immigrant cloud’ you mentioned. How does it work? What technology do you imagine?

    • jennw

      We’re imagining the ‘cloud’ similar to blockchain technology, referencing for example its provenance tracking capabilities. For example, we envision that in 2030 a European baby is born and his/her digital passport (e.g. like their birth certificate) is initialized. As this person grows up and crosses borders, that could be added to their ‘chain’. The movement can be ‘approved’ as long as it is within the guidelines of governmental agreements between countries.
      Then, we have on the other hand the example of someone from a developing country without the proper documentation to migrate. With this program, it enables their digital footprint to be initiated at another point in life so they can join the migration system.

    • akanksha

      Thank you for your comment.
      The technology that could enable this idea is –
      1. Blockchain identity tracking as the legal digital ‘immigrant footprint’ acting like an official digital passport.
      2. Digital tracking – chip technology, fingerprinting, facial and iris recognition to de-risk the admission of immigrants without any established records.

      Please let us know if you have any comments on the same.

  • deepika

    that’s a really interesting concept guys! But have you thought about any possible backlashes you may face by the citizens of the country who would see this as a threat to their job opportunities, as we have seen it happen in USA?

    • jennw

      I think there is always a fear of the unknown, and a ‘protectionism’ of sorts that may occur. These are important concerns. The way we hope to mitigate these is through the tracking to debunk the fear, and the job matching program. Migrants would be recruited specifically for roles where there is a need, with the intention of not cannibalizing the job market of locals. In addition, countries can create agreements that stipulate the number of workers that can be exchanged as another safeguard for the local economy.

  • larry

    While one can argue about the “Big Brother” concerns, for the most part, this data is already on the web in some capacity. The concept of a Government / Private partnership allows for a level of accountability for protecting people’s data and privacy. Technology companies would have the expertise, resources and know-how to develop and maintain it. As well, the larger players today have already taken stands with Government for the potential abuse of individuals privacy. In return, Government offers financial resources as well as an infrastructure to monitor and hold the “partners” accountable.

  • parthgarg

    I’m a bit wary of the idea on involving a private organization that controls the data. The new immigrants could be stuck and too much reliant on the Rebirth system. Can they get out if they want to? Also what kind of data is being is used by the government to improve the immigration system? These are a few things i couldn’t understand. And how would the sudden arrival of thousands of people could be controlled using this? A good step to start with.

    • dass

      The concept shows both scenarios.. One where the immigrant is stuck, and another where he is prospering. However, it will be interesting to see what measures governments take to not let the citizens feel insecure or threatened.

    • larry

      But the question is Government better than private organizations to control the data? Back in 2016 Apple and other major corporations took significant stands to ensure Government agencies do not get unempedded access to individuals private data. But, to you point, there are several examples of large companies intentionally misuing data. The teams suggestion of a collaboration of Government and Private enterprise is essential to the security and success of this endeavor.

  • brandeis

    Rebirth seems to be an innovative approach to creating a win-win situation. Migrants have basic life needs covered with minimized worry and stress, which impacts their quality of life, and they are integrated into society. There is also a channel for them to regain independence, and build their self-esteem in a situation where this is sometimes lost, coming to a new country of unknowns and possibly having a different position in society. This partnership adds contributing members to society, where migrants in the program do not depend on social services forever.

  • jennw

    Looking at today’s workforce hiring versus that of 20 years ago, we see a much more skill-based and modular format. As we approach 2030, we can anticipate great strides in this direction, where migrants entering the Rebirth system may have to ‘match’ job needs based on technical and soft skills, EQ, etc. Soft skills are very contextual; a migrant far from home worrying about learning a new language, getting a child into school, what the future holds in a new country, etc. will be filled with stressors that may alter their soft skills. Therefore, the Rebirth system creates a support network / ecosystem to create optimal conditions for success in the new country.

  • ananya026

    The idea does give an idealistic outline of providing immigrants a legal and better life, while removing the fear and doubt in the natives- and hence possibly also addressing the roots of many an underlying societal tensions; however I will admit I would be more than wary of the possibilities of exploitation in such a dependent scenario. Moreover, what is the capping point of immigration? The situations from which immigrants arise- are they always amenable to a formal process? Would this process realistically only reach not-so-needy immigrants?
    As an Indian, what I would finally aspire to, for Geeta, is that her field work in Rohtak, is a modern, specialised field of work itself- a way of life that earns and lives at par with the rest of society. Her skills in the field may be more of a specialized service for the world than her in a supermarket. If this young member immigrated, what happens to her dependents back home?
    It is, admittedly, an endless intertwined butterfly effect, and yes, every aspect would be hard to address together. To be provided such an opportunity may be a life changer, while we wait for the day we can improve on the homeland. Where to cap immigration, may be another complicated ethical and logistic issue- and in the reality of ongoing illegal immigration- streamlining population as they enter the shores in a give and take, in a centralised manner, is a civil and bright idea.
    It is also commendable that your team is presenting the concept including both positive and negative scenarios,
    Good work guys!

  • larry

    GDPR is an excellent first step to this end.

  • larry

    Immigration provides benefits and challenges to the host country as well as for the migrants. Immigration was the basis of building the United States and Canada. In more recent times the number of immigrants is still a small percentage of the overall population (of which many had family trees tracing back to the European countries dealing with high numbers of Immigrants today)and in most cases. In Europe today, immigration is occuring at a much higher rate.

    Your proposal offers two opportunities to deal with some of the challenges. As mentioned in other comments above, the data tracking can offer increased security to the Host country and comfort to the current citizens. Secondly, detailed profiles can be used for job matching and properly mapping opportunities with individuals, addressing a major problem in Europe today with high numbers of immigrants unable to find work.

    Your project is an excellent well thought out concept that should be seriously considered to address one of the most serious issues facing the EU today! Great work!

  • sariwa

    The video is nicely done, illustrating both sides. It is an important discussion to be having as there is a large amount of people immigrating, with technology where it is now and where it is going, it is a shame not to use it to maximum benefit of both the government and the immigrants.

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