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Artificial Intelligence means new perspectives for governments and corporations… and everybody else

Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back

After years of covering some of the most important technology events in the world, I was happy to witness the rising of AI for Good. While 2018 saw a burgeoning approach to Artificial Intelligence as it became the central theme of a few panels in major global forums and conferences or a key resource in innovative projects developed by a still modest yet resilient number of blue chip corporations, 2019 has obviously given the subject its momentum. AI is a market expected to grow from USD 21.46 Billion in 2018 to USD 190.61 Billion by 2025, and AI for good seems to be the new frontier to explore, according to a McKinsey studyFrom startups to established tech operators and from governments to social entrepreneurs, it suddenly seemed like the whole tech industry was finally on the right launch pad to propose devices and services that improve both our lives and natural or manmade environments and, ultimately, preserve the planet.

Education is one of the industries that have been positively impacted by AI and has potential to grow 38% per year, reaching an approximate market value of 2 billion USD by 2023. Gamification, along with assessment and tutoring programs are being widely implemented by corporations and governments to boost learning ratios, even in remote impoverished or isolated communities while reducing costs and, eventually, helping attain the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4). Now quality education seems indeed a reachable objective where it is most needed. Robots are taking center stage in educational projects, whether to teach students about coding and AI or to coach them, thus improving their level of interest in technology-related topics.

For governments, AI has proven effective in security projects, helping cities to secure big events through improved surveillance, using connected devices including drones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices to better control road traffic or the air quality. Cities like Barcelona and São Paulo have been forerunners in that regard, while making sure their policies meet the aims of the related UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG11), specifically recommending the implementation of smart city policies.

Another major concern relating to sustainable development being population welfare, especially regarding food security, smart farming strategies are at the center of many country agricultural sustainable improved productivity programs, one of the biggest concerns of our times. AI for farming, include IoT, is a promising market and, only in the US, is adopted by 250,000 farmers, who are collectively spending almost 1 billion USD. And that’s in line with the UN SDG2. Producing food for an ever-increasing population in times of dramatically severe climate change certainly is the ultimate challenge of our society – and AI is indeed offering a highly estimated contribution. Companies that monitor crops and livestock, and those that are in the business of optimizing the efficiency of health plans, are part of the same trend, which otherwise rely on complex microclimate predicting algorithms and communication tools reaching out to farmers, providing them with more accurate information.

In a nutshell, AI for Good is good. In times when competitiveness, productivity and transparency are inevitably defined in terms of sustainability, they have no other option but to be intrinsically connected to smart, clean and socially impactful devices and services. Technology has answered many humanitarian challenges, trying to foster inclusion at a pace that was unimaginable only a few decades back. It is now the appropriate time to look at AI, as well as at its developers, and consider them as allies in the process of shaping a better world.

Join us! If you want to showcase your product, service or project in AI for Good, apply to speak at SIGEF 2019.

While many companies are still pursuing blind profits, these businesses are following the path of circular economy, transparency and technology for good

Doing Good, Doing Well is Horyou’s Media Partner

Do you know what your clothes are made of? Maybe of cotton obtained from monoculture fields, full of pesticides, or of organic hemp or cotton more environmentally friendly? You would probably know if it’s the latter – companies that walk the ‘green’ walk are making an effort to communicate to customers about their sustainable practices.

Companies like Patagonia, the apparel industry that, for decades, has invested in fair trade, sustainable supply chain and recycling projects, are examples of a growing business trend where transparency and commitment to the planet are the rules, while good revenues are a natural consequence. Ryan Gellert, general manager of Patagonia for Europe, was one of the executives invited to share his experience during the Doing Good, Doing Well (DGDW) conference, Europe’s biggest event on responsible businesses. Organized by MBA students of IESE Business School, the event took place in Barcelona, Spain, on 4-5 March.

Gellert’s keynote about Climate Crisis and the Role of Businesses went about the importance of being socially responsible not only as a business but about providing good quality jobs for employees and vendors, promoting thoughtful consumption among clients and pursuing carbon neutrality. It also went as a committed promoter of change. Besides the main apparel business, Patagonia has invested in documentaries about nature, has set a venture capital to support green businesses and has a project for grassroots environmental activists, among other social good actions. Gellert stressed the importance of consumers, employees and civil society to make changes through decisions like purchasing a product or applying for a job. “Individuals need to act and not only be someone who just falls into a path that was designed for them”, he said.

Another company that has shown its commitment to the future was Schneider Electric, represented by its Chief Strategy Officer, Emmanuel Lagarrigue. The company has developed many clean energy projects throughout the years, providing green, affordable solutions to big cities big or small communities in rural Africa or the Amazon rainforest. In his presentation “Better Businesses for a Better Planet”, he stated that the world has no space for greenwashing, or companies faking sustainable practices. “There are many recent examples of businesses lying about their commitment to the planet. At the age of digitization and transparency, it’s not allowed anymore. People are becoming more conscious and companies with these fake practices will be short-lived”, said Mr. Lagarrigue.

Isabel Garro, Special Adviser for the Agenda 2030, Spanish High Commission, gave an inspirational talk about how businesses should keep reinventing the future of our planet. “Every entrepreneur is a superhero because they work with purpose and passion. We have no right to be pessimistic”, she said.

The DGDW, a Horyou media partner, covers a range of topics like Future of Work. Feeding a 10 Billion World, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Follow DGDW and keep informed about their activities, and about Horyou’s coverage of the conference on Twitter.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) and its side event 4YFN, have some successful experiences to share with the social good sector

The Mobile World Congress took place from 25-28 February, 2019

Until a few years ago, the social good world was considered as a unique entity, completely separated from the regular businesses. Although it had common goals with the public sector, it was then clear that the ‘charitables’ or ‘non-profits’ shared few traits with the for-profit industries. The good news is, these times are over. Last week, as I dug in two most disruptive conferences, the MWC and 4YFN, I learned not only that social businesses have never been more interesting to the tech industries, but that they have many lessons to learn about them. Here are some the tech industry takeaways for social entrepreneurs:

They want to invest in social businesses – Regardless of industry, many big corporations have substantial open innovation budgets to invest in startups that bring positive change in their businesses. Clean energy, sustainable mobility, simplified and accessible payment projects, affordable healthcare, all of these are examples of areas that are in the radar of big companies. There was never a better time for social businesses to be funded and supported by for-profit businesses.

Accountability and Traceability are the future – As we’ve been seeing with the many Blockchain projects that have been developed in the last few years – going from cryptocurrencies like HoryouToken with its Proof of Impact to Smart Contracts that bring transparency to documents – traceability is key and, luckily, more accessible than ever. The future lies in trustworthy information, as consumers want to know more about the supply chain of their food, clothes, medicines…

Don’t be afraid of Artificial Intelligence – One of the most awaited events of the MWC was a live medical procedure – a live surgery performed by a surgeon on the stage of MWC, while the patient was at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona. The new technologies will allow exchanges that were almost impossible in the past, due to geographic barriers, distances and broadband limitations.

Internet of Bodies and Biohacking – I witnessed, shocked, a volunteer had a chip implanted in his own hand, live on stage. It now allows him to make payments or open doors with his ‘intra-device’, but the possibilities of the biohacking technology go far beyond that. It can help disabled people to be less dependent on carers, for example, and has a huge potential in developing solutions for dementia patients.

The Industry of Care – As populations are becoming long-lived in many countries, the industry of care has brought promising technological solutions. From apps that connect healthcare workers with families, providing traceable and monitored care to non-invasive procedures for chronic patients that use wearable devices to prevent hospitalizations, there is a range of affordable MedTech solutions that were developed by successful, social-good-oriented startups.

Do you want to share your social innovation solution with the world? Horyou, the social network for social good, is the perfect platform to do so. Be the change, be Horyou.

Startups hold the power to bring positive disruptions to the world. In this interview for Horyou blog, Pere Duran, 4YFN (4 Years From Now) Director, talks about the global interest of investors for startups opportunities, social innovation and Blockchain technologies.

Pere Duran, 4YFN Director

Every year, 4YFN is gaining more attention and visibility and it’s conquered the status of a mandatory place to be among Mobile World Congress (MWC) visitors. Could you tell us about the growing importance of the event throughout the years?

The astronomical growth of 4YFN in the last few years reflects the increased appetite by investors and corporations to see growth stage companies, and the robust health of the startup ecosystem which is keen to be seen. Each year we see an uptick in attendance from all quarters and each edition we see the key technologies evolve. We are continuing to grow in Barcelona and are now spreading our wings in LA and Shanghai too. Shanghai, for instance, is expected to double in size this year showing that the appetite for startup opportunities is global.

What are the plans to come for 4YFN – to become an autonomous event or to be intrinsically connected to MWC?

4YFN is more closely linked to MWC than ever, having been recently fully acquired by the GSMA, which owns both events. It means that we are even more inextricably linked than we were before, but of course we have our own identity and purpose. We run the events in separate venues and put together a specific program for our audience. Our goal is to give as much visibility to the startups as we can and keep them at the centre of everything we do. We also continue to grow in other ways and other geographies, for instance, we recently had an event in Buenos Aires with Mobile 360 and will do something similar in Mexico in June.

What is the importance given to social entrepreneurs and sustainability projects?

Social entrepreneurs and sustainability projects are intrinsic to the startup ecosystem and what we do. Tech4good is a key theme of 4YFN19 and we are seeing a whole host of social projects among our startups this year. If entrepreneurs don’t change the world, then no one will. We are extremely happy to welcome great speakers from the social sector, to mention a few, Mariamme Jamme, her goal is to empower 1 million young women and girls globally to become coders by 2030 and the President of Spain of the Red Cross, who will be running a competition for technological innovation aimed at humanitarian purposes.

 

4YFN will take place in Barcelona from 25-27 February

Do you think funders and investors are aware of and convinced about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals? How?

Yes, I believe that people are fully invested in the Sustainable Development Goals and you see many organisations, like GSMA, putting a lot of resource behind achieving them. The problems they address are very big and very complex. Any progress is a step in the right direction but we have a very long way to go! I’m hopeful that the mSchools challenge at 4YFN this year that invites students to hack a Sustainable Development Goal will bring some radical thinking to move us in the right direction.

Horyou has recently launched HoryouToken to support social inclusion and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Do you see more Blockchain projects rising among the startups and entrepreneurs who are part of 4YFN?

Blockchain is another key theme of this year’s conference. What we are seeing is a more lateral approach to Blockchain technologies that moves them beyond cryptocurrencies. Blockchain became very over-hyped on the back of bitcoin mania, so we might not be seeing a rise in the actual numbers of Blockchain startups, but certainly a rise in the quality of the technologies and a much deeper understanding of the possibilities Blockchain offers.

4YFN is a Horyou Media Partner

4YFN, an innovation lab for the future and entrepreneurship event stemming from the Mobile World Congress, is shaping the world the way you’d like it to be four years from now

4YFN will take place in Barcelona on 25-27 February

4YFN, the ‘younger brother’ of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile technology event which takes place annually in Barcelona, was created to give a glimpse of how the world would be four years from now. It is a place for entrepreneurs and start-ups to showcase their companies and projects. As such, it has attracted thousands of visitors each year and is now the most influential global business platform startup.

The forum for entrepreneurship aims to change the public’s attitude to technology by drawing attention to the people who are changing it. This is why 4YFN has grown into a hub for investors and major corporations seeking to purchase and commercialize early-stage innovations from its more than 600 startups.

From February 25th to 27th, participants will have the opportunity to attend master classes on topics including Robotics and Futurism, participate in a Datathon, attend startup pitches, or network with founders and funders. Tickets are on sale and early birds get 20% off the official rate; 50 free tickets are given to the best answers about the 4YFN mission.

4YFN 2018

To help to promote the idea of better times to come, 4YFN is collecting people’s resolutions for the future. The answers will be sent to the stratosphere!

Horyou team will be there. Stay tuned as we bring you more news!

4YFN is an Horyou Media Partner.

Cities which use technology to provide a better quality of life to its people are following the right path to become smart and prosperous.

Barcelona, Spain

A few months on the first 5G networks started operating in the United States and China, the technology market is already gearing up for the massive impact of hypervelocity networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) in everyday life in cities. For many experts, the revolution has already started: we have reached the era of 5G cities where smartphones, drones, cars and connected industries will be the tools for governments to predict the future. Most cities’ main goal is to create an environment where people can thrive to face less inequality and bureaucracy, and have more access to information regarding their rights and the public services they are entitled to.

“The age of connectivity has been reached and will benefit billions of citizens around the world,” says Mats Granrys, general director of the GSM Association, the European trade body which represents mobile operators. In practice, while 5G is still waiting for organizations and governments’ approval of technical specifications, top US and European phone operators have entered an aggressive race to turn cities into technological hubs.

Vodafone, which is doing 5G tests in Milan, Italy, aiming at providing the city with 80% coverage, is one of them. The project is to transform Milan into a data lab, using interconnected drones and fixed cameras to oversee mobility and security. Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group, foresees technologies such as digitally-integrated ambulances with hospitals, where remote consultations and vital data exchange will help to make the rescue process more efficient and speedy. Cameras and drones also improve event management and act as support for city security by allowing authorities to create alternative traffic routes in real time, for example. Together with the local government, Vodafone is also working with small entrepreneurs on the project. “The idea is to create an ecosystem of experimentation. Technology can be the great solution to generate more productivity, business and jobs in cities”, he says.

Jean Pierre Bienaime, general secretary of the European infrastructure association 5GIA, says cities like Barcelona in Spain and Bristol in the United Kingdom, are the next smart 5G cities. “From measuring the environmental impact of pollution to digital monitoring and automatic management of ports, there will be a radical transformation in public and private management”, he affirms. Bienaime believes that cities must focus on Public/Private Partnerships to ensure the success of the initiatives.

Companies, in particular telephone operators, are taking the first steps in regional data analytics initiatives with the potential to become smarter with technology. Telefonica, for example, inaugurated a project in São Paulo, Brazil, that uses traffic data to predict high levels of air contamination up to 48 hours in advance. The system uses the signals emitted by smartphones to draw a matrix of mobility and understand the pattern of people’s displacement. “As urban traffic is a key predictor of pollution, we have been able to identify the problem before it happens,” says Pedro Alarcon, Head of Telefonica in the Big Data for Social Good area. He adds that the project was born as a sustainability action but ended up becoming a marketable product, thanks to the government’s interest in acquiring the service. “The next steps with the arrival of the 5G networks will be to implement the IoT to be even more precise,” he says.

One of the benefits of the new generation of Internet, according to 5GAI’s Bienaime, is the wide coverage of networks and the minimization of service failures. In Brazil, for example, the association is developing international cooperation projects in remote regions, with the goal of bringing connectivity and the internet of things to benefit sectors such as agriculture.

In a speech in February this year at the Mobile World Congress, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim highlighted the role of the mobile industry in economic growth and the end of inequality. “Smartphones are dream accelerators,” he says. The presence of mobile networks and connected devices in communities in poor countries, he explains, enables communities to access new business, as well as education and autonomy.

Yong Kim cites such examples as Manila in the Philippines where a public-private initiative for open data was launched to monitor traffic, which generates daily losses of more than $ 60 million, or India, where data points to the regions of cities most affected by pollution and allow institutions to invest in housing and the environment. “The internet of things can unite us to reduce extreme poverty,” he says.

Many of these social innovation projects are laboratories for operators to work with broader solutions in cities and regions with different profiles, regardless of the degree of economic development. “By combining mobility data with other sources, operators can create a business case to support decision making and planning by governments and NGOs,” says Granrys from GSM Association.

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