Reconnecting Search & Rescue in Syria

Short thesis

Search and rescue workers in Syria are extraordinary people working in the most difficult of circumstances. Supply lines for the vital equipment they need have been disconnected - aid convoys haven't always made it through. This session will present the story of how a small team of Syrian engineers in Syria connected with leading engineers in Europe to design and make search and rescue equipment themselves. It is a story about the how the maker movement is making a difference at the cutting edge of aid.


Using video footage, photographs and live streams (if we are unable to get the Syrian engineers to speak in person), this talk will set out the story of the 'RescueTech' programme for Syria. The programme was run by the humanitarian aid organisation Field Ready, which has been playing a crucial role in bringing the maker movement into the humanitarian sector over the last two years - and particularly since a talk on 'Humanitarian Makers' at Re-Publica in Berlin in 2015,

Engineers, designers and aid workers in Europe and Syria have collaborated to make essential equipment needed by search and rescue teams in Syria - equipment that they would otherwise have to do without. This talk will explain how they worked together, some of the challenges they faced and what it means for the maker movement in Europe and for Syria's future.

Specific stories will cover:

  • Heavy-lifting airbags that have been used to lift up collapsed rubble from buildings
  • A makerspace in Idlib producing critical items in the field 
  • An emerging makerspace in Gaziantep to support Syrian refugees 

This new role for the maker movement fits into larger concepts that have been emerging from recent Re-Publicas, including the idea of re-connecting makers and manufacturers in Europe and far beyond to form a 'MakerNet' that represented a shift towards a future of Massive Small Manufacturing.

Building new connections with new infrastructures will shift the post-industrial revolution paradigm of small numbers of mass manufacturing facilities in a place to massive numbers of small manufacturers. By demonstrating the role of the maker movement in circumstances like the response to the Syrian Crisis, we can begin to see the role it can play in the future development of every country - whether they be rich or poor, recovering from war, natural or economic crisis, or perhaps looking to reconnect people in new ways.