The gadget that saved a refugee in the middle of the Aegean Sea, how an agent uses technology to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico, and how a journalist in exile broadcasts the news with WhatsApp. Listen, decode, and decide: Can technology crossing borders save us? /* RESET */ .elq-form * { margin: 0; padding: 0; } .elq-form input, textarea { -webkit-box-sizing:content-box; -moz-box-sizing:content-box; box-sizing:content-box; } .elq-form button,input[type=reset],input[type=button],input[type=submit],input[type=checkbox],input[type=radio],select { -webkit-box-sizing:border-box; -moz-box-sizing:border-box; box-sizing:border-box; } /* GENERIC */.elq-form input { height: 16px; line-height: 16px; } .elq-form .item-padding { padding:6px 5px 9px 9px; } .elq-form .pp-group { padding:0px 5px 0px 9px; } .elq-form .pp-field { padding:6px 0px 9px 0px; } .elq-form .field-wrapper.individual { float: left; width: 100%; clear: both; } .elq-form .field-p { position: relative; margin: 0; padding: 0; } .elq-form .zIndex-fix { position: absolute; z-index: 1; top: 0; left: 0; right: 0; bottom: 0; } .elq-form .field-design { position:absolute; z-index:2; top:0; left:0; right:0; bottom:0; margin:0; padding:0; } .elq-form .no-fields-prompt { float: left; width: 100%; height: 150px; padding-top: 50px; clear: both; } /* SECTION BREAKS */.elq-form .section-break { float:left; width: 97%; margin-right:2%; margin-left:1%; padding-bottom:6px; } .elq-form .section-break .heading { width:100%; font-weight: bold; margin:0; padding:0; } /* LABEL */.elq-form .required { color: red !important; display: inline; float: none; font-weight: bold; margin: 0pt 0pt 0pt; padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt; } /* FIELD GROUP */.elq-form .field-group { float: left; clear: both; } .elq-form .field-group.large { width:100%; } .elq-form .field-group.medium { width:51%; } .elq-form .field-group.small { width:31%; } .elq-form .field-group .label { float:left; width:97%; margin-right:2%; margin-left:1%; padding-bottom:6px; font-weight: bold; } .elq-form .field-group .field-style { float: left; } .elq-form .progressive-profile .pp-inner { float: left; clear: both; } .elq-form .progressive-profile .pp-inner.large { width:100%; } .elq-form .progressive-profile .pp-inner.medium { width:51%; } .elq-form .progressive-profile .pp-inner.small { width:31%; } /* RADIO */.elq-form .radio-option { display: inline-block; } .elq-form .radio-option .label { display:block; float:left; padding-right:10px; padding-left:22px; text-indent:-22px; } .elq-form .radio-option .input { vertical-align:middle; margin-right:7px; } .elq-form .radio-option .inner { vertical-align:middle; } /* CHECKBOX */.elq-form .checkbox-span { display:inline-block; } .elq-form .checkbox-label { margin-left:4px; } /* INPUT */.elq-form .accept-default { width:100%; } /* SIZING */.elq-form .field-style { margin-right:2%; margin-left:2%; } .elq-form .field-style._25 { width:21%; } .elq-form .field-style._50 { width:46%; } .elq-form .field-style._50_left { clear:left; width:46%; } .elq-form .field-style._75 { width:71%; } .elq-form .field-style._100 { width:96%; } .elq-form .field-size-top-small { width:30%; } .elq-form .field-size-top-medium { width:75%; } .elq-form .field-size-top-large { width:100%; } .elq-form .field-size-left-small { width:21%; } .elq-form .field-size-left-medium { width:46%; } .elq-form .field-size-left-large { width:60%; } /* INSTRUCTIONS */.elq-form .instruction...
United States


00:00:00hello world this is code breaker I'm Ben Brock Johnson
00:00:09when was the last time someone hung up on you like not dropped the call where the cell network goes out but someone straight up hung up on you in the middle of a conversation did you call the person back or give up someone is pranking him
00:00:27Mahmoud Al khuder couldn't just give up on the phone call he made because he was in the middle of the Aegean Sea trying to make the trip from Turkey to Greece it's a short trip when you stand at the Turkish Beach and you look at the island you can see it actually with your own eyes she is making this journey in the dead of night in the buddies on is full of other refugees the captain and Algerian guy is not a real Captain he's a Smuggler in the Greeks are trying to keep all of these people out
00:01:00so this short trip is a lot more dangerous that's even before this happens they still called Captain the engines just stop
00:01:16birds on a less than seaworthy boat packed with people trying to escape across the border in the darkness and he's stuck but he's got one piece of technology that might help them
00:01:28he has a smartphone to eat this boat across the border in the middle of the sea so much mood gets chosen to call the greek Coast Guard can you help us in the Greek Coast Guard guy says
00:01:56I'm in a boat full of refugees in Greek Waters in The Greek guy says
00:02:05and then
00:02:08I'm codebreaker we decipher are complicated feelings about technology by asking straightforward questions with a sense of humor a sense of awe and hey sometimes a sense of dread in our second season we've got one question in mind for Little Words the answer isn't so simple
00:02:29I hope so can it save us we are asking this question about one kind of technology in every episode today I'll look at technology in borders how it helps people make dangerous Journeys all over the world we're going to hear the rest of my food and is smartphones trip across the water in darkness going to hear about a refugee journalist banned from his home who uses software to undermine violence that he has left behind in about what technology can and can't do for those who have reached the other side no one would be glad when his own is destroying but I'm glad that I'm here cell technology Crossing Borders
00:03:11can it save us
00:03:22hey remember there's a special code hidden and every one of our episodes so listen closely
00:03:32there are more refugees on the move right now than ever some are on the move because they're trying to find a better life others are trying to stay alive so let's get back to my food sitting in a boat with about 30 people with an engine that has stopped working and a smartphone in a Greek Coast Guard officer who just hung up on him and I told him I don't want to bomb Syria refugees and we run out of fuel in the middle of the sea and we need your help and I know you're not embarrassed that I'm with the with other people why doesn't this Coast Guard guy believe them two reasons because my boots calling from a Jordanian number in because his line is too quiet be quiet so I can hear you and talk to you would you prefer those people to just Panic or something okay everybody I need you to yell
00:04:32they sounded like they never did before I I think those people was waiting for such a moment
00:04:43so this Coast Guard officer told me I believe you now then the guy asks for a location and it sends that plus some photos of the people on the boat and he told me so don't do anything it's all just speak and it will come to you
00:05:06by this time it's 3 in the morning there are Disston lights but it's really hard to see maybe 50 feet in any direction from the boat they wait
00:05:16suddenly those big lights from the Coast Guard's just turned on
00:05:24it was like just the daylight just like it
00:05:28if the sun just rise suddenly
00:05:36this particular boat of refugees made in a lot of them don't almost 4,000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year that's a thousand more than died in the 9/11 attacks heroin trip across these Waters because of his smartphone but just the fact that we know the story doll also depends on the same technology because Business Insider breaking news editor Natasha Bertrand used technology to find it Natasha thanks for coming by for Business Insider you've done some work involving the refugee crisis but you're here in New York really interested in the war in Syria and the broader geopolitical ramifications of you know everything that that that crisis would cause and based on those articles that I started writing I started getting messages from people over there thanking me
00:06:36how are you hearing from these folks a lot of it was through Facebook because a lot of everybody's whenever I was on Facebook yes and they would just yeah they would send me messages somehow we communicate with by email ultimately it would turn out to be WhatsApp conversations if you want to talk more frequently and Rabia is a Syrian refugee from Aleppo he reached out to me and he said hey my brother Mahmood he's where he graduated the law degree from the University of Aleppo and now he's living in Germany I'm so I reached out to him I sent him a friend request on Facebook and he just happened to mention you know it was it was funny cuz I almost didn't make it the boat broke down in the middle of Mediterranean you know he might not have been able to get to the Greek Islands if not for you know his cell phone so look mood relied on Tekken you do to you couldn't do this reporting without Facebook or Whatsapp
00:07:36imagine now I think that it makes it a lot easier to establish a connection with the people that are playing these War zones at this point you know rather not just yo disembodied numbers or you know just massive you know refugees are migrants her and whatever that's just impossible for us to imagine you know now they're tweeting now they're sharing photos of it on social media and now they're just a lot it's a lot easier to experience what they are experiencing in real time
00:08:18technology isn't just being used as a tool for refugees making difficult Journeys or reporters who want to tell that story. Is a refugee was a refugee camp the presence of technology in refugee camps berries a little bit depending on what country they're in and when they were first set up the jacquerie refugee camp in Jordan right on the border with Syria was set up in 2012 about 80,000 people live there about 5 square miles from The Institute for information policy at Penn State University and she's talking to us on the line from Jordan wear she's researching how the camps social structure and economy are informed by technology have everything from wedding dress stores to mobile phone stores right on the Main Street you can buy anything there and there's a big demand for electricity
00:09:18all kinds of tech needs Carlene's research suggest about 80% of refugees under 25 have mobile phones for instance and since a lot of refugees are in limbo they seem to be even more active on social media. Then they would be otherwise and there's another tech area where is that tree is actually way ahead of a lot of other places buying groceries the world food programme set up to grocery store is in 8 organizations gave refugees their own prepaid MasterCards to pay for food and other Goods. There there was one problem with the MasterCards black markets they wanted to put an end to the black market but then they quickly realized why do you need a card dissolution the unhcr or United Nations Refugee agency scans refugees eyeballs they scan their Iris and in this way refugees can pay for groceries
00:10:18we'll just both have their account debited and authenticated through the iris scan so they won't need a card anymore and so it's more advancement of Technology than you be in an average grocery store in the United States we project the stuff that we use and they're actually further ahead they have why do you think it's happened there in that camp but not here in the US I think that anytime you have government or inter governmental agencies are Distributing Goods people in need there's a certain power and balance that's established and so people who are in need are exactly exactly dr. Carlene Maitland of the institute for information policy at Penn State University
00:11:43stay with us code breaker will be back in a minute
00:11:57we've heard how important technology is to refugees making dangerous trips across borders and how it's been woven into everyday life in refugee camps it plays a role in The Next Step to remember my mood after spending time in a camping grease eventually he made his way to Germany last year Germany accepted it over a million refugees there more refugees trying to resettle there than most other places in your early because of Germany's Open Door immigration policy which is not without its political consequences it's getting more controversial all the time settling these refugees is also a problem and as per usual the tech World thing so you can solve that problem by training them for jobs in the tech sector relate as a big Tech Hub in Germany I went there recently to visit ready school to start up working with refugees
00:12:48this is beta house at 6:40 co-working space on the east side of Berlin every floor is full of people all the people are working on their laptops improving their project 29 year old bodies I am a guy with piercing blue eyes and a big smile is showing me around on this for beta house is a busy Cafe with a free-standing treehouse in the middle of the room and bookshelves in a lot of milk for meetings all built out of scrap Lumber a very special if they taste of the taste of Berlin I like it what it what does that mean
00:13:24they called Berlin it's sexy but for the city's former mayor used this phrase Armed robber sexy a decade ago to try and run more Tech investment to Berlin and it's working rents have stayed relatively cheap all the cities constellation of tacky co-working spaces like beta has has continued to expand these spaces and the visibility of large you're hungry on tech companies like SoundCloud and Rocket internet are good news for startups this could also be good news for refugees looking for work skilled refugees which brings us back to ready school or body to classes and is now volunteering ready school was created by members of the local startup Community who want to use technology to solve complex Social Challenges ready starting a 3-month digital integration program for its next class of refugee students topics can include everything from basic website building or introduction to robotics two more advanced computer programming solar calendar
00:14:24and this is ours to do that's a to-do list that is a lot of person that's a big calendar everything they are also about to move ready operations to a different co-working space yeah because we used to be in and out and in oxygen finger
00:14:46and tomorrow is start moving our stuff to who Brown party has been on the move for a while on a journey that started long before ready school I left Syria in 2011
00:14:59and I was looking for a second home that's called because my home country is Syria and but I couldn't have the chance to stay there but he left his home in series capital of Damascus soon after buying what's broke out he looks for work in a new home in Dubai then Lebanon it was supposed to be temporary but Damascus where fadi's family ran a construction company building the German and American embassies has only gotten worse now unfortunately the only embassies are closed during the war
00:15:30tell me about weekly with everything is closed and there's nothing now in 2014 he moved with his family to Berlin are you glad that you're here and not home no one would be glad when he's out of his home and his home is destroying but I'm glad that I'm here and I had the chance to and the support that I could start over but starting over is hard body is one of over a million refugees in Germany the process of applying for Asylum is painfully bureaucratic you can take anywhere from 5 months to several years you get bored get frustrated but earlier this year finally signed up for ready schools training program which is designed to support entrepreneurship among the countries refugees while they are in limbo waiting for work permits ready pay students from all over the Goosebumps Afghanistan version
00:16:25from here on out some promising opportunities a few the programs 90 graduates so far have scored internships at Cisco Mark Zuckerberg has visited the school and talk shop with programmers ready schools co-founder and CEO is an Acura got that that first year when you arrive that you continue learning while the gym and government and sorting out to you or your paperwork and you can let's call it reenter Society again Germany needs more workers specifically in the tech industry it's got an aging population its birth rate is low there are reported 700,000 open jobs they're just waiting to be filled there's also a lot of snake oil being sold about how learning to code is the answer so I asked Dan about the danger of over selling the idea of attack as a silver bullet you cannot teach people to code and be a good programmer in 3 months what I think we can do is to open the door and make people curious
00:17:25Anna points out there ready students have been cluded architects in archaeologists as well as programmers and even kids with no formal training so sometimes it's merely about continuing education while refugees with all skill sets wait for their work permits meanwhile Germany's open door policy to refugees isn't popular among all of its citizens leader of One right-wing party in the country recently suggested it might be time to start shooting refugees who crossed Germany's borders New integration law says that the government can restrict where refugees live and is trying to fight this idea that refugees are Outsiders beside young talented driven people who are pioneers and they would have been the future of Syria or Afghanistan but they've decided to leave and I think we have a responsibility to protect and take care of them here but if we only see it as a responsibility and not as an opportunity that I think you're completely missing the point it should be seen as a gift that they are coming here
00:18:25if they want to participate in our society I think it's only smart to invest in these people it'll come back plenty fold for Germany and for Europe and started a catering business for Syrian food with his mom do you think this program is saving people's lives yes of course when once you are providing the the student the opportunity to get the job to start their own business I believe that's kind of saving people's lives we are preparing the student for the next step where they are starting their own future
00:19:02it isn't clear what fadi's future is whether it's in Berlin or back in Damascus but he has his own business and he's hoping the tech skills he learned it ready school that helped him build his business will help others like him on the Move looking to start over
00:19:24technology is a tool for people on both sides of every border it can break down walls it can fortify them to John Lawson is part of the Border fortification system that Americans hear about a lot of Border close to home stretch of almost 2,000 miles between Mexico and the southern states in the u.s. Lawson is not interested in talking about whether or not we should build a wall he is interested in patrolling the Border because they him protecting the border is logical grab some more importantly protecting the lives of people who are trying to cross that border whoever they are and whatever their reasons is also a logical act so describe to me a little bit I'm here in New York you're in Arizona what's it look like down there we have a lot of train out there in Tucson sector to cover and that goes from the bootheel we call it in New Mexico the edge of New Mexico share the way out to the Yuma County Line what kind of Technology are you
00:20:22using today to patrol the Border Nogales is probably the most advanced border patrol area on the Southwest border because we have all of the newest technology down there the latest thing that we have is called an integrated fixed our what's on that Tower is a high-powered a camera high-powered night camera a radar and it's a it's an amazing piece of technology compared to what we used to have I used to be one of those guys who sat on top of that hill with at night time camera looking out there trying to get that panoramic view but frankly it was like looking through a straw what's it like now what's the analogy for now basically you're looking at a map agent has a GPS he knows exactly how far it is from his location to where the group is so it's not a while they're right in front of you in 15 minutes later they're right in front of you we have these conversations sure when you're out there on the ground in the middle of the night knowing exactly how far something is from you it lets you determine how much energy you want to spend it once trying to get there
00:21:22can you help you don't know how many times I've walked for half an hour by myself to find account does that create more problems than it solves the sensors and then going off no yeah we have to do our due diligence and find out what it was and sometimes that involves getting out of your truck and walking for half an hour to see whether it was a cow or not so this is where if you happen to have that unmanned aircraft system if you have some cameras in the area they can see that that sensor activated and they can look over and say you know what there's people out there what's the impact of technology on your job overall I mean do you think it's positive it is does a cell phones have made it more difficult in that the smuggling at work has a better ability to contact each other and to plan for for us to see us to scout us these guys who will sit on a hill or on second floor of a building in Mexico and
00:22:22they'll use a cell phone to call the migrants one-by-one and tell them when the crossword across when to run what Bush to hide behind are some of these people that you're going out and picking up are they in trouble
00:22:36I mean not just not just in terms of in trouble with the law for crossing the border when they shouldn't be but do they need help these people put their they put their lives in the hands of a of a Smuggler and that's mugler is looking for this commodity right he's he's moving people and depending on how many people he moves he gets paid a certain amount they don't think twice about if there's a group of say five or six people and one of them sprains her ankle or one of them's pregnant can't keep up with something happens and that person is not able to keep going don't get left behind and it gets it gets hot people get disoriented and they become dehydrated and from there at least the kidney failure and after that I'm going to that point there looking at best case scenario there on dialysis worst case scenario they're not going to make it so we find that all the time and in fact this past year the biggest game changer we've got is that we're messaging out to migrants that they can call nine-one-one when they're in trouble we set up
00:23:35call center at the Joint intelligence in operation Center here in Tucson and they will give us ordinates which is what County dispatch is able to get from pain that cell phone in determining what tower is hitting this year we're looking at approximately 1,400 rescues directly as a result of that nine-one-one call you're using technology to try and help literally save people's lives in some scenarios yes
00:24:06what's the weirdest thing you've seen
00:24:11you going to cut you kind of catching me on that one I've I've seen some weird stuff but a lot of it is kind of sad
00:24:19I did run across see you a gentleman at one point I was driving down the road in that early in the morning and had been shot several times with a 22 from somebody had a falling out with at a party and they just left him for dead and I had to I had to get into the hospital so that's it it's one of the things that you run into you make it yeah he's fine he was he was fine
00:24:48I had a guy who was so thankful that I found him that he gave me his rosary beads
00:24:55it always run into stuff like that
00:24:59agent John Lawson is operations officer at the Joint Task Force West in Arizona is in loss and thank you very much thanks for having me been have a good day
00:25:16in a place like Arizona Mexico is a palpable presents no matter how different they might seem politically or otherwise you never forget where your neighbor's live and who they are sometimes the place just over the border is full of people you left behind people you want to see Thrive or survive just as you aim to do when you crossed over this is the perspective of a guy called Alexandra Indian gecko he's in Rwanda which is next door to his home country of Burundi he left his home in Brandy's Capital bridge in Borat some months back after burundi's president said he would run for a third term which many said was against the Constitution political protests in the country turned violent on the streets of boujie bar
00:26:05what did barricade like this at Ross because you don't stop until the president spouse to leave office in a bunch of local journalists reported on what was happening this did not go over so well the chief of police in bujumbura if you continue to lie like that but he continued then there were the death threats by phone and then they have a talk to the house where my family were and two grenades
00:26:39after he had two grenades thrown at his house which luckily didn't do their intended damage Alexander decided to take his family across the border to Rwanda but when he ate a bunch of other journalists refugees got there they didn't want to stop reporting on how bad things were so we decided not to stay doing nothing God's Jenna is so rude they still at sources in Burundi and they wanted to keep her biting information on what was happening so they started making daily news reports
00:27:12DJ Khaled Nas reports have a growing audience but they don't get broadcast on FM or a.m. which is served by the government it's down on the Facebook and messaging service WhatsApp big group messages by invite only for hundreds of people who want news that isn't being controlled by the government do you think that this technology you're using can save people save because you know I have many testimonies this someone was arrested by the police people who were tortured unknown places and the one we knew that way broadcast it you know sometimes those are the rest of those people they release them so just to make sure I understand you're being alerted to the arrests or the torture of some people in
00:28:12Randy and then you are reporting reporting on that exact and and then some of those people are being released because people are finding out about it and the government there does not want to keep them if people know about it I always like to say as a journalist if you're not making someone angry you're not doing your job so I suppose that's it I sign that you're all continuing to do good work there but congratulations on the work that you're doing and we thank you for your time
00:28:54we've heard a lot of stories about how technology is informing changing impacting the journeys that refugees and migrants and others are taking in some cases impacting the jobs of folks who are supposed to be keeping them out or patrolling the border so to wrap things up let's not to CNET News editor and chief Connie Guglielmo Connie has been reporting on this with her team at CNET over the last summer and she joins me now to talk about it Connie thanks a lot my pleasure why were you so compelled to do reporting on this subject many other people saw the photo of Alan kurdi who was the three year old who washed up on that beach in turkey last year after his family tried to unsuccessfully cross the Aegean Sea into Greece and
00:29:45as a parent and as a human being I was horrified but I was also angry that a lot of people just liked the photo or retweeted it we have all of this technology to share the story and we're very passive about how we use it but that set me on the path to thinking exactly how is technology going to help all of these people more than a million people who are leaving countries and heading to Europe is part of this Mass Refugee Exodus that came back in terms of how people are using technology so two things I would say number one is smart phones are not just an ICD to have there in a Cessna T people use their smartphones as a Lifeline to connect them with their friends with their family to find out information to tap into news networks to search websites how important that mobile device is to you cannot be understated my second thing is that
00:30:45smart phone is only good if you have WiFi and electricity and what we found at least in one Camp is that it was less useful to people than a brick people that we met and a camp on the border of Serbia and hungry with no electricity and no Wi-fi are reporters there brought a 360-degree camera and set it up in the center of Camp to capture the scene I may put that camera on the top of a a large cardboard box so they could get a high review and everyone came over to them and we're looking at walking around at first they thought that they were interested in the camera all they wanted to know is who is going to keep the cardboard box but a phone like I said with no electricity or Wi-Fi has less worse than a brick sis
00:31:34is less bad than it would be otherwise because of Technology
00:31:40is it less bad I guess what I'm saying is can it save us can technology save us who are going through this who are having this experience being displaced and having to travel the most important thing to remember about tech is that it is a means to an end it's not an end you have people who are driving a lot of this decisions so the most high-tech fanciest technology that you can have at your disposal is not going to complish anything unless there's a will behind it to apply to solve problems would using brass tacks I mean just adding this stuff does help as a whole
00:32:19All Things Considered yeah I think it can I think that knowing where you have a Pathways of a friendly groups willing to help you versus people were trying to stop you having that information at your fingertips is very very useful I tried to explain to be able to put yourself in the place of someone who is on this journey what would you want to have having a device that tells you where you should go where you can sleep where you might get some food or clothing is that useful to you or not and I think everyone would agree those are useful things to have for your kind of Duty Elmo's editor-in-chief of CNET News Connie thank you very much for talking about all this stuff with me
00:33:03by the way as you know there is been a secret code in every one of our episodes there is one in this one to this is the last episode of the season so to find out what comes next you can enter the code at codebreaker codes you ready what always happens with technology is that when it is used positively it actually breaks down Borders or shows you that there artificial it increases our intelligence by showing us that What Makes Us the same easily passes by what makes us different in a way it makes the Human Condition more Universal isn't that the goal of intelligence
00:33:46are shows produced by Claire tennis get her our senior producer is Golda Arthur or engineer Jake Gorski we got production support from Adrian Maya and Marketplace Tech producer Stephanie Hughes thanks as well to you Jenny Hatfield Megan ellingboe Tony Wagner in the Shocker web call Brent Arjuna Soriano maor Levi sharp Danielle Stevens Katie long Betsy Streisand Jeff Peters Nicole child Lori belleu Avery Gallison John Gordon and Molly Wood big thanks to Tina admans and everyone who made this season possible marketplaces executive producer of sitar Nieves Deborah Clark is marketplaces vice president or theme music is by mux mool or shows made in partnership with the nice Folks at Tech Insider and their robot Overlord damn Bob cop you can get updated on their stories and much more at just don't believe what they say about us Dixie
00:34:39about 4 and then Brad Johnson hellbreaker is a Marketplace production from a p.m.

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Marketplace, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.