Crossing the Digital Divide: Morcos Key’s Infographic On How Refugees Use Mobile Technology

Posted inSocially Responsible Design

If you have one (but especially if you don’t), you know how important cell phones are not only for communication purposes but for, well, everything.

Morcos Key’s second visualization for RAND Art + Data visualizes the data around how millions of refugees rely on technology, specifically with cell phones. From employment to faith purposes to education and more, the work that Wael Mocros has created is provoking, eye-opening, and makes you want to help, just as all great art does.

Morcos Key’s second visualization for RAND Art + Data explores how millions of refugees around the world rely on digital technology—particularly mobile phones—as an essential tool for survival, for communication, and for holding onto their history and identity.

The primary visual of this piece is a photograph taken by Wael Morcos in May 2009 on the shoreline of Antelias, Lebanon. In the photo, two people hug while looking across the horizon. “The expansive body of water becomes a metaphor for the crossing—the distance that many refugees travel,” Morcos says. “And the two human bodies intertwining remind us that, while technology can shorten the distance, it can never replace the warmth of an embrace.”

The 2019 report, Crossing the Digital Divide, includes findings from focus groups that RAND researchers conducted with displaced people in Colombia, Greece, Jordan, and the United States. These individuals explained the many ways in which mobile phones are a vital part of their lives—providing a direct line to faraway family and friends, access to health care services and information, opportunities for education and employment, and much more.

Developing this piece was deeply personal for designer Wael Morcos of Morcos Key. From his own experience—not as a refugee but as a migrant—he understands what it’s like to be separated from home and from those you love. 

Project Credits

Wael Morcos of Morcos Key