Monthly Archives: September 2015

The organization of chaos gets an award

Organization is essential to success in innovation processes, as in all activities. Having the information (data) needed to establish priorities, plan, manage time and resources, and make the right decisions is part of the process. Perhaps that is why the European Commission, through its Joint Research Centre (JRC), has given an award for the most innovative SME to a company in Barcelona whose work explores chaos in big data.

Sparsity is a spin-off created in 2010 by members of the Data Management Group (DAMA UPC), which forms part of CIT UPC. Under the leadership of Josep Lluis Larriba, who is also the director of DAMA, the company specializes in the management of large volumes of information, a task complicated by the information being widely dispersed (hence the company’s name, Sparsity). The use of relational systems to find answers to very complex questions could take too long, longer than the time estimated to solve the specific problem. However, Sparsity can successfully explore this chaos to – for example – manage mobility in large cities in which the optimization of journeys in private cars, public transport or on foot could lead to considerable savings of time and resources.

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The type of calculations that Sparsity carries out could be applied to almost any field. For example, it is being used to detect the most influential Twitter users and to organize audiences into areas of interest by topic, location, and other factors. It is also being used to monitor the buying and selling of houses, using patterns to detect fraud, and even in the analysis of ecommerce to identify opportunities on the basis of user behaviour.

A few months ago, the European Commission assessed 279 ICT-related projects that had received European funds through the Seventh Framework Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. The aim was to see how these projects had developed, and identify the innovative potential of companies and institutions. Sparsity was selected as the most innovative SME, and Barcelona as the main centre for ICT innovation in Europe, ahead of London and Paris.

In the new situation in the world, business opportunities are changing rapidly, and value is shifting from raw materials and real estate transactions to the knowledge economy. Much of international trade is based on not only the products and services that are offered, but also how they are sold and managed. As a result, ICT companies are taking over from multinational energy companies, production and mass consumption in the selective indexes of international markets.

At CIT UPC, we are proud of Sparsity and of the participants in this initiative: university researchers who are committed to developing their innovation projects on the market, and offering high added value solutions to other companies and organizations. The European Commission’s award shows that we are on the right track, and that the application of scientific and technological knowledge is essential to increase business competitiveness.

The organization of disorder gets an award, and confirms the words of José Saramago in The Double: “Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered”.

Note: The European Committee has announced the first Innovation Radar prize, to recognize the most promising initiatives in EU-funded projects. If you want to support Sparsity’s entry for the award, you can vote here.

An app to keep care homes for the elderly in touch with relatives of residents

Daily contact between care homes for the elderly and relatives of residents is a delicate relationship. Particularly in the first weeks of residence, it requires a great effort by both parties to ensure that the adaptation is satisfactory, and that the residents are receiving the care and attention they need.

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David Sadurní, CEO of Smart Technologies Development, is well aware of this. His father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives in a specialized centre in Castelldefels (Barcelona). The need to find a vehicle to channel important information for families, including the schedule of activities, nutrition-related aspects or a simple photograph to check how the resident looks, led to the creation of GerApp, an application for keeping care homes in touch with relatives of residents through the mobile phone. To carry out the project, Smart Technologies Development approached inLab FIB, which is a member of the UPC Technology Center (CIT UPC).

The work was carried out over five months by a five-person team, led by Marta Cuatrecasas, the coordinator of the Project Development department at inLab FIB UPC. “They had a clear idea and asked us to undertake the technological development of the application, with the requirement that it could function on three platforms (iOs, Android and Windows)”. To achieve this, inLab used Phone Gap, a framework that enables apps to be implemented on the main supports.

For inLab FIB UPC, the work involved putting all their efforts into a project that was focused 100% on marketing the product, “which was very stimulating”, explained Marta Cuatrecasas.

This is one of the technological developments that inLab FIB UPC has launched in collaboration with companies, and particularly with start-ups. This model of collaboration is gaining importance and is of great benefit to both parties.

For David Sadurní, the experience of working with a university centre was satisfactory: “We came with the idea and sought the technological support of inLab FIB, who we’d collaborated with on another project, and the result was as expected. They were highly committed, and treated us well. They work on a range of projects, but were still always available for GerApp”. It is hoped that the collaboration will continue, currently with the design of a manager for the application, which will also be designed in the technology centre’s laboratories.

The heads of Smart Technologies Development are now introducing the application in the first care homes for the elderly, and are looking for sponsors to fund its use, which should be at zero cost for the families and the homes. Meanwhile, the Associació Catalana de Recursos Assistencials (ACRA) has given an award to the idea, as the best innovation in dependency and the promotion of personal autonomy.