When someone loses contact with a loved one, they can get in touch with the Restoring Family Links (RFL) department of a Red Cross or Red Crescent office wherever they are in the world to submit a tracing request.
This first enquiry can be made in many ways: by calling a helpline, sending an email, filling out an online form, or going in person to a Red Cross or Red Crescent office. National Societies typically spend a lot of time collecting and assessing data, organizing interviews, prioritizing, and evaluating all the RFL requests they receive through these various channels. This work is known as “pre-case management”.
Until a few years ago, each National Society had established its own way of dealing with pre-case management. A tool used by the ICRC was not integrated with any other, communication with enquirers was difficult (up to 30% of cases were closed because the enquirer could no longer be contacted) and the average time needed between initial contact and opening a case was 90 days.
So, in October 2021, in collaboration with the Swedish Red Cross, the Central Tracing Agency launched a new pilot: the Integrated Online Tracing and Pre-Case (IOTPC) project.
The idea was simple: to offer a tool that would allow beneficiaries to submit their tracing requests via an online form, using a web portal where they could check on the progress of their cases, upload documents and change their contact details. At the same time, the tool would allow case workers to easily register all incoming requests, exchange digitally with people involved, manage appointments, scan documents and monitor the case load.
The IOTPC project was successfully piloted with the Swedish Red Cross, which has been working closely with the Central Tracing Agency to develop the tool. The project was also rolled out for use by the Central Tracing Agency Bureau for the international armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
In July 2022, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella presented the IOTPC project at Microsoft’s annual Inspire event – a mark of recognition for this successful new tool.