Introducing: Arrival Advisor!

Here at the PeaceGeeks Vancouver office, our team has been feverishly working on a mobile app called Arrival Advisor. From design and storyboarding to launch and long-term maintenance, we are pouring our hearts and souls and brain cells into this project!

Arrival Advisor is going to make settling in Canada easier. Launching in British Columbia this spring, Arrival Advisor will offer newcomers to the province a comprehensive directory of services to help them navigate their new home. From finding a job to learning English to enrolling children in school, seeking legal assistance, and everything in between, Arrival Advisor is a free, trustworthy, and easy-to-use tool that will guide immigrants and refugees through their settlement process, helping them feel confident and at home in Canada. We hope to scale Arrival Advisor out to other provinces in Canada within two years.

The app has been developed in close consultation and collaboration with local immigration partnerships, and is community-driven. We conducted extensive research and analyses of existing challenges to newcomers, and current efforts to mitigate these challenges. One of the key features of this research — which remains ongoing — is our unique series of Advisory Committees: Newcomer, Frontline, Technical, and Strategic. Each committee has a particular objective. The tech team assists us with development questions. The newcomer team helps us fully understand the needs of the community from an experiential perspective. The frontline team is made up of service providers across British Columbia who are able to advise us on how to best reach Arrival Advisor’s intended audience, and confirm content pertaining to services and resources available to newcomers. The strategic team continues to help us keep the project’s overall direction on-track.

Arrival Advisor will be a one-stop-shop, a go-to guide, for newcomers to fast track their settlement in B.C.  With a full directory of information and  services tailored to newcomer needs, from English courses to school-enrolment, health-care application details, citizenship and immigration, housing, and money and banking, immigrants and refugees can identify their next steps and build a plan to get life in Canada started on solid ground. The information available on the app comes directly from the BC Newcomers’ Guide, which is published by the Province of BC bi-annually. It is as up to date as possible, and verified by our committees and partners. App users can trust Arrival Advisor.

The app will be available in English, French, Arabic, Korean, Tagalog, Punjabi, and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified).

Because starting fresh in a new country can be overwhelming even in the best circumstances, we’ve taken steps to empower app users in a few different ways. Firstly, all of the information is organized into handy sections: “Settling In,” “Health,” “Money & Banking,” and so on. Users can access what they need from this menu. Users can then bookmark specific items that are important to them, to help them keep track of their to-dos. Arrival Advisor will provide contact information about relevant services, and link to users’ phone maps to help them navigate their journey.

Further, users of Arrival Advisor have the option of filling out a questionnaire that helps illustrate their particular circumstances, to populate a list of services personalized to them. The users remain anonymous: this questionnaire cannot reveal their identity. It serves to streamline the information in-flow to reduce overwhelm and organize relevant topics. Because one of the key principles of PeaceGeeks is an awareness of the importance of data privacy and security, we’ve designed Arrival Advisor to reflect this. An account is not required to utilize the full capabilities of the app. Users can save topics, access the customized directory through the questionnaire, and delete all their data at any time. We are only going to be tracking user’s pathways through the app, so that we can optimize functionalities, and we don’t share this information with third parties. We want to respect users’ anonymity, because we know that in addition to a basic right to privacy, many newcomers to Canada are seeking asylum and are concerned for their safety. Arrival Advisor does not compromise their security in anyway.

We want Arrival Advisor users to be confident knowing our app has the ability to offer them the information and tools they need to navigate their settlement in Canada. Our goal is to tangibly demonstrate to newcomers that we designed this app specifically for them as a functional and trustworthy tool, but also to illustrate awareness and acceptance, and convey a meaningful welcome to Canada.

We are in the final stages of development: we’re conducting user-experience testing all around Vancouver, ramping up our marketing campaign, and preparing for a springtime launch!

Arrival Advisor will be available in app stores in a few short months! Stay tuned!

This article was written by PeaceGeeks volunteer Daniel Morton, and PeaceGeeks staff Lauren Hyde.