Two neighbourhoods in Vic are hosting the pilot test of a new community composting system led by the BETA Technology Center24.02.2021The neighbourhoods of Sant Llàtzer and the Four Stations of Vic will host a pilot test for the community composting of the organic fraction of waste generated in the neighbourhoods from March onwards. The main aim of this pilot test will be to evaluate the potential of this system for in situ management of the green fraction in these two neighbourhoods, and to determine whether it can be a more environmentally and economically sustainable solution than the current management system. In addition, it will test whether this model can be incorporated in cities similar to Vic in order to treat all organic waste generated in the households of some of their neighbourhoods.
The BETA Technology Center (Biodiversity, Ecology and Environmental and Food Technology) is coordinating this pilot test involving community composting of the organic fraction as part of the DECOST (Decentralised Composting in Small to Medium Towns) European project, which the research centre at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) is leading. Vic City Council is also a partner in the pilot test, which follows another similar one within the framework of the same project that began in the town of Les Masies de Roda last autumn.
Four community composting points
Four community composting points will be established at various points in the Sant Llàtzer and Quatre Estacions neighbourhoods in Vic. Each of these points will have a space for pruning remains and six compost bins - two for input and four for maturation. The input compost bins can be opened with a magnetic user identification card, so that only residents will have access to them. Users will only need to deposit the organic waste from the green fraction of orchards and gardens and organic waste in all of them, as the CT BETA will be responsible for the management and maintenance during the project.
The DECOST pilot test was presented today at one of the composting points in the Sant Llàtzer district of Vic, in front of the Casa Nova de la Torre Negra centre. The Councillor for the Environment of Vic City Council, Albert Castells, thanked UVic-UCC for choosing the city to carry out the DECOST project. He said that this project "is fully aligned with the City Council's threefold goal of reaching zero waste, reducing the generation of waste per person and improving selective collection by increasing the percentage of waste generated that is reused." Castells expressed his satisfaction "with taking a step forward in addressing the climate emergency focusing on waste and at the same time, a step towards achieving an even more sustainable and healthy city within a European pilot project."
120 families will benefit from the project
Joan Colón, a CT BETA researcher and the DECOST coordinator, explained that the aim of the project is to "promote and develop new organic matter management systems, and implement community composting at a professional level." Colón explained that in the long term, the compost bins, which have magnetic locking mechanisms, will enable a payment system for waste generation to be implemented, "so that citizens who engage in good management pay less." According to the DECOST coordinator, the four composting points that have been set up are designed so that around 120 families from the Sant Llàtzer and Quatre Estacions neighbourhoods can take part, and if the pilot test is successful, "consideration will be given to rolling it out." The pilot test is scheduled to continue until September 2022 and the CT BETA will be responsible for its professional management during this period. At the same time, however, "a team of professional managers will be established so that when it is over, the project can be continued without the management of UVic-UCC," said Colón.
The new compost bins will entail a minimal change in the day to day lives of the residents of the neighbourhoods of Sant Llàtzer and Quatre Estacions in Vic. "Citizens are usually asked to manager the waste, but not this time, as they will only have to deposit the bag of organic matter," the project coordinator explained. There is a green fraction area at each point, where people can leave leaves and small twigs left over from household pruning. In the pilot test in Vic, in addition to plant debris from orchards and gardens, the public will also be encouraged to bring "100% of the organic matter" to the compost bins. This process will last about three months, and it is expected to begin to generate compost for distribution from June or July, and work is already under way on this phase.
Jordi Collet, the Vice-Rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer at UVic-UCC, thanked Vic City Council for its willingness to work with UVic-UCC and the CT BETA. During his speech, the Vice-Chancellor highlighted the research centre's desire to "move beyond the technological dimension and work in the community" in order to address challenges such as the climate emergency and the circular economy. Collet pointed out that DECOST is a "very interesting and innovative project which can be implemented in other regions after careful evaluation." He said that this project is an example of how "research and knowledge transfer can contribute to improving people's lives while at the same time curbing climate change."
The second pilot test in Osona
This is the second community composting pilot test in the Osona region carried out by the CT BETA, after the test in Les Masies de Roda, where community composting now supplements the door-to-door compost service, and 100% of the organic waste generated in the village is treated in the municipality itself. Joan Colón emphasised that "levels of public participation are very high" in the city. Taking the door-to-door compost service and the compost bins into account, "the waste fraction fell by 75% in the first month." Together with the test under way in Vic, these pilot tests will help optimise this new system so that it can subsequently be adopted in many other similar towns and cities.
A wide-ranging project
The aim of the DECOST project is to create closed and decentralised systems for community and domestic composting, in which municipalities and residents play a key role in the recovery and output of organic waste by means of urban agriculture projects. At the same time, it also aims to improve the current collection rates of the organic fraction. Only between 33% and 36% of the organic waste generated in Catalonia is currently selectively collected.
The DECOST project, which lasts three years, is funded by the European Union through the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme, which is contributing 2.7 million Euros (ME), or 90% of the total budget, which amounts to 3.1 M?. A total of eight partners are participating in DECOST, including universities, research centres and government agencies from six different countries in the Mediterranean region: apart from the CT BETA, the consortium includes the Marche Polytechnic University and the Ente di Governo Rifiuti e Risorse Idriche Basilicata in Italy, the University of Patras, in Greece, the Irbid Agriculture Directorate and the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Jordan, the Galilee Society (Arab National Society for Health Research and Services) in Israel, and the Palestine Technical University Kadoorie in Palestine.
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Neurekalab creates the NeurekaNUM application to help children with dyscalculia with their learning 23.02.2021March 3 is International Dyscalculia Day, which marks a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects mathematical learning and numerical skills. This learning difficulty is also known as "mathematical dyslexia," and is unrelated to the child's or young person's level of intelligence. The difficulty lies in their ability to interpret both the symbolic and non-symbolic aspects of mathematics. People who suffer from dyscalculia have difficulty interpreting numbers and mathematical signs, are unable to perform mental calculations or work with abstractions. The prevalence of dyscalculia among schoolchildren ranges between 3% and 6%, with a similar distribution among girls and boys, and the most effective treatment is early detection. To help children and young people with this disorder with their learning, Neurekalab, in which the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) and the University of Barcelona (UB) are shareholders, has launched the NeurekaNUM application, which is aimed at professionals and families who want to help their sons and daughters with their mathematics for a specific period of time.
The NeurekaNUM application "has arisen from the need to create a tool for children with dyscalculia that enables them to do activities to improve their learning process, to try and offset a problem they have to live with", explains Sergi Grau, dean researcher at the UVic Faculty of Science and Technology, and co-founder of Neurekalab with Josep Maria Serra-Grabulosa, a researcher in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology at the UB. "Learning difficulties are closely related to academic failure, low self-esteem and lower levels of employability," adds Josep M. Serra. One of the researchers' aims for this tool is "for it not to remain simply a pilot test in a research project, but to scale up its impact through a company with social goals, like Neurekalab."
NeurekaNUM is available to any family, school or professional. Those wishing to use it only need to visit the Neurekalab website and register, without any entry fee or time commitment. Interested families are asked to carry out a preliminary test in order to perform a prior assessment of each child. Schools and professionals interested in using the app should contact Neurekalab and make inquiries directly.
Present on the market since 2020
NeurekaNUM has been available on the market since late 2020, but a free preliminary version was released in the middle of last year, "so that families would have some help during the lockdown," says Grau. More than 250 families used NeurekaNUM between March and June 2020. There are currently 400 families and 210 professionals registered, and 550 children have used the application. "Now we are aiming to improve the users' experience with the current products, and the idea is subsequent to bring new products to market," says the UVic-UCC researcher.
To mark International Dyscalculia Day, Neurekalab, the Vallès ADHD Association and the Catalan Association for Dyslexia and Other Learning Disorders will be running a campaign from 27 February to 7 March, so that families can have an assessment of their children's mathematics learning difficulties.
Neurekalab, a spin-off to enhance learning
The Neurekalab spin-off was created in 2019, as a result of the need for scientifically validated methods for the early detection of difficulties in key cognitive learning processes, including attention, literacy, working memory, numerical processing and arithmetic. The company was established by Sergi Grau, dean researcher at the Faculty of Science and Technology (FCT) at UVic-UCC, and Josep Maria Serra-Grabulosa, a researcher in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Barcelona (UB), in order to develop and market digital tools that improve learning and prevent academic failure.
Apart from NeurekaNUM, they have also developed a digital product to detect learning difficulties called NeurekaTEST. According to Serra, "these tools are designed to be used in schools, and by clinical psychology and psychopedagogy professionals. The aim is not only to detect learning difficulties, but also for health and education professionals to be able to determine each child's strengths and shortcomings in order to personalise their learning process."
The bachelor's degree in Multimedia, Applications and Video Games at UVic-UCC - a world of possibilities
Neurekalab currently has students from the UVic-UCC Multimedia bachelor's degree course doing internships. This shows the many career opportunities these studies offer, and their many practical applications in various walks of life. Apart from the world of entertainment focused on the programming and creation of video games, a sector which has clearly expanded due to the lockdown, the bachelor's degree in Multimedia, Applications and Video Games provides practical solutions and real applications in fields such as education, healthcare and social work.
The level of employability at the end of the UVic-UCC Multimedia degree is very high. According to the "Bachelor's Degree Courses Comparative Report Catalonia 2020," 100% of UVic-UCC Multimedia Engineering students are employed within 6 months of graduating. 100% are working full time and with a permanent contract, engaged in study and university work. According to this report, 100% of students would recommend both the degree course and the University.
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UVic-UCC obtains the COVID-19 safe University certificate01.02.2021UVic-UCC has obtained the "COVID-19 Safe Protocol" certificate after several months of external auditing. The hallmark guarantees that the University has correctly implemented the specific action plan which includes hygienic, health, organisational, safety and health risk prevention measures to reduce the risk of infection. According to the head of the Infrastructures and General Services Area at UVic, Arnau Bardolet, "the health of the university community has been a priority throughout the pandemic, and the hallmark we have obtained shows that we are doing things properly and is recognition of the efforts to adapt to the COVID situation made by the people at this institution."
The purpose of the audit, carried out by the external company TÜV Rheinland, is to ensure that work and teaching spaces are compliant with COVID-19 health and safety measures. "It has not been an easy process, because UVic is a complex environment with many different spaces and users, which makes the certificate we have obtained even more commendable," says Bardolet. The Miramarges, Torre dels Frares, Masia de la Torre dels Frares, Zona Esportiva, Casa de Convalescència and Can Baumann buildings, which are all located on the Vic Campus, have been certified.
Access, case tracking and centralised information
The audit emphasises several strengths in the management of health and safety measures. First, it highlights the effective management of entrances, which have been reduced in number while maintaining emergency exits, and the performance of temperature and mask checks at all receptions. Another positive point is the tracking of COVID cases, including those arising from being in close contract and positive cases. The secretaries of the centre of each faculty have centralised the tracking of cases, and everybody who needed it has received support.
The correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the large number of hydroalcoholic gel dispensers located in all the buildings, including in lecture rooms, laboratories, offices and common areas, was also rated in positive terms. "The objective of this measure was for good hygienic habits to become part of the institution's day-to-day life right from the very beginning," says Arnau Bardolet.
The creation of Covid Agents and the centralisation of information, which is available to everyone through the Covid-19 portal on the Virtual Campus, were also key factors in obtaining the certificate. This portal contains all the available and updated information, ranging from affidavits and accreditation certificates, to information on how to reserve a space for lunch, and how to report cases of the disease.
Valid for one year, and reviewed after six months
In order to obtain the certificate, a team of auditors visited the University's facilities in order to verify its measures. After passing the audit, the University received a certificate that will be valid for one year. A follow-up audit will be carried out within six months of the certificate being issued to confirm that the control measures implemented have been maintained and adapted to the evolution of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, UVic will continue to implement any improvements which it is able to undertake in order to provide an even safer environment. In the short term, it plans to implement a closer oversight of the delivery of personal protective equipment, certifying that the user has received it correctly, and it will be organising a COVID training course which will be mandatory for everyone working at the University. "The ultimate goal of all these measures is for the university community to feel safe when they are inside our facilities, within the boundaries laid down by the Procicat civil protection plan, and to assume a shared responsibility for doing so, so that together we make the environment as safe as possible," concludes Bardolet.
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The EU's fishing industry produces 2.5 million tonnes of waste per year that could be converted into biofertilizers28.01.2021Every year the global fisheries industry generates more than 20 million tonnes of by-products, most of which are squandered. This means that after the catches have been processed, 25% of the total ends up being discarded as waste, which especially includes fish species which they were not trying to catch or other remains from industrial fish processing. In the European Union, this waste accounts for a total of 5.2 million tonnes per year. The project entitled "Producing Advanced Bio-based Fertilizers from Fisheries Wastes (SEA2LAND)", in which the BETA Technology Centre of the Universitat de Vic - Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC) is participating, will rise to this challenge by improving and adapting technologies to recover nutrients in order to use them to produce biofertilizer using by-products from fish processing and aquaculture.
Marine by-products are usually discarded and underused because it is often forgotten that their composition can contain up to 9% nitrogen (depending on the species), 2% phosphorous and 0.6% potassium. It is believed that of the 5.2 million tonnes of waste coming from the European fisheries and aquaculture industry, around 0.52 million tonnes of nitrogen could be recovered and used for agricultural production, and 0.1 million tonnes of phosphorous could also have another use. If they are recovered, these amounts of nutrients could fertilize 4.3 million hectares and 1.5 million hectares, respectively.
A circular economy model
The overarching goal of the SEA2LAND project, which is financed by the European H2020 programme with a total budget of 8,853,401.54 euros, is to provide solutions to help overcome the challenges related to agricultural systems, climate change and waste reuse. This project, which is based on a circular economy model, will encourage the large-scale production of fertilizers in the EU using its own raw materials by transforming by-products into optimal nutrients for certain crops in local conditions or that are suitable for export. SEA2LAND will contribute to the independence and safety of European agriculture's nutrient supply and lower the nutrient imbalance in Europe.
The biofertilizers produced are guaranteed to comply with EU regulations, including those on ecological agriculture. Furthermore, the effects on biodiversity and environmental sustainability and the impact on social parameters and local economies will be studied, and business plans to produce these fertilizers will be defined. The resulting by-products, coming from both fish processing and aquaculture, could partially replace the nutrients imported for European farming, thus also contributing to lowering the negative environmental effects of their current underuse.
Pilot on sludge treatment in Malta
As part of the SEA2LAND project, the BETA Technology Centre of the Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC) is primarily responsible for evaluating different technologies to produce biofertilizers using by-products from the aquaculture industry in the case studies being conducted in the North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. The CT BETA working team participating in the project includes Lidia Paredes as the lead research and project leader, in addition to the researchers Nagore Guerra, Laia Llenas and Sergio Ponsá. The importance of CT BETA's contribution lies in "being able to implement, evaluate and demonstrate that a given number of innovative methodologies will enable nutrients to be recovered in order to produce biofertilizers", says Parades. Thus, "the products yielded will be used to replace certain inorganic nutrients which are currently being used in Europe".
Specifically, CT BETA is leading the pilot in the Mediterranean region focusing on treating the sludge produced in different aquaculture facilities on Malta which belong to the AquaBioTech Group. It will also validate the treatment process to evaluate the slurry produced in a freshwater aquaculture industry located in Spain (Caviar Pirinea SL).
The first 2 years of the project will be spent implementing and optimising the different technologies at CT BETA facilities. "The first year will be spent designing and assembling pilot plants, while in the second we will begin to optimise the processes in order to maximise the quantity and quality of the biofertilizers", says Parades. She also says that one of the main strengths that CT BETA brings to the project is "validating that existing technologies meant for other applications can also be effective in making biofertilizers; that is, scaling technologies from a pilot level to an industrial demonstration under real conditions".
In this sense, once the process has been validated while operating under optimal conditions, the technologies will be transferred to the facilities of the company Caviar Pirinea SL in order to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed treatment system in a real environment. The case study developed by CT BETA, in which the company Fertinagro (a leading supplier of agricultural fertilizers in Spain) is also participating, will make it possible to produce 4 fertilizer products with a high agronomic value to be used in agriculture, as well as to recover high-quality energy and water.
Four years and 25 partners from 8 countries
The SEA2LAND project has begun in January 2021 and will conclude on 31 December 2024. It is being coordinated by NEIKER-Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development and has a total of 25 partners from 8 EU countries (Spain, France, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Portugal and Belgium), along with Switzerland, Norway and Chile. The project sets out to implement 9 technologies which will be validated in 7 case studies conducted in 6 representative areas in the fisheries sector (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Cantabrian Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Adriatic Sea).
This is not the first project in which CT BETA is involved to examine the production of biofertilizers using organic waste. Since January 2020, the centre has also been the coordinator of the FERTIMANURE project, another H2020 project geared at producing biofertilizers using livestock manure and generating business models that make them competitive in the European market. It is also participating in projects like REFLOW, which is working to valorise phosphorous in waste from the dairy sector, and ACCELWATER, which focuses on strategies to valorise waste from the meat industry.
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The Crossroads project, from the UVic-UCC's CEIG, now has a draft guide to best practices27.01.2021The four partners in the European Crossroads project, led by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CEIG) at the UVic-UCC, held their third working meeting on 21 January of this year. The session enabled the participants to further their exchange of social and educational practices geared at lowering early school drop-outs and to evaluate the first draft of the guide to best practices for professors which they are preparing, along with a compilation of tools and methodologies. In addition to the UVic-UCC, Udraga Za Ljudska Prava and Gradansku Participaciju (Croatia), Fundacja Laboratorium Zmiany (Poland) and Pour la Solidarite (Belgium) are also participating in this project on lowering school drop-out rates in post-compulsory education.
"At this meeting, we reviewed, debated and saw how we could improve this draft guide, which all the project partners now have, so they can make contributions and it can be finished by February", says project coordinator Mar Binimelis. The goal is to work practically on the guide's content with different focus groups in March, April and May. These focus groups will be made up of instructors and youths from the different countries participating in the project, all of whom should complement each other. For example, the participants will include secondary school students, university students, secondary school teachers, university professors and even a partner who works with youths living in conflictive or difficult situations.
The draft guide to best practices ? a document that is slated to be available by the summer of 2021 ? is made up of a first part that is more theoretical, which outlines the reasons for early school drop-out while also addressing gender, empowerment and other issues from an intersectional perspective. The second part of the guide is more practical, with a compilation of a diverse series of activities and resources so teachers can apply them in their respective settings.
The next meeting of the Crossroads project will be before the summer in Barcelona. However, depending on the status of the epidemic at the time, it may well be held online, just as this last meeting was, which was supposed to have been held in Croatia to strengthen relations among the partners. The project launch meeting was held one year ago now, in January 2020, and Crossroads is scheduled to continue until 31 January 2022.
The purpose of the Crossroads project is to share similar methodologies and experiences that have been developed in other European countries to deal with the problem of drop-outs from post-compulsory education once students have completed secondary school, including baccalaureate, vocational education programmes and the university. The reasons can touch on different kinds of inequalities such as gender, background, social class, ethnicity and sex. The team coordinating the project, which is financed by the European Commission's Erasmus+ call for applications, is comprised of Mar Binimelis from TRACTE; Gerard Coll-Planes from GETLIHC; Núria Simó from GREUV; Gloria García-Romeral, a research assistant and project manager; and Rita Sarda, a CEIG scholarship recipient.
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A UVic-UCC study highlights gender-based violence behaviours in youth sport 20.01.2021The acceptance and levels of tolerance of gender-based violence among adolescents and young people have increased in recent years, and although social media is the forum where these behaviours are gaining the most momentum, they are also overcoming digital barriers, and taking place in everyday settings such as sports clubs. This context is the starting point for the project "Prevention and Awareness of Gender Violence among adolescents: contributions by the world of sport," which aims to make these situations more visible, prevent them from happening and raise young people's awareness of them. The project was carried out by the researchers Montse Martín and Ester Checa, of the Sport and Physical Activity research group (GREAF) at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), working with Lluís Franch, a former student at the University. The end result is a video aimed at adolescents and young people which highlights some of the behaviours involving gender violence that can take place in a male dressing room, and suggests measures for dealing with them.
"The widespread use of social networks has led to a significant increase in adolescents' levels of tolerance of gender violence," explains Montse Martín, who says that "young people are subjected to social pressure from all sides, to the extent that adolescent girls accept boys having control over their bodies and their private lives as something natural, while at the same time, boys also increasingly consider this way of doing things as normal." According to the researcher, this normalisation ends up affecting how regulated sport is played in everyday environments.
With this in mind, the project created a forum for debate which was designed to determine the adolescents' opinion of their consent to certain attitudes involving gender violence. Two sessions were organised with two basketball clubs in the city of Vic: the Osona Female Basketball Club and the Vic Basketball Club. In these sessions, girls and boys belonging to federated youth teams (aged between 16 and 18 years old) discussed the topic, and their comments contributed to the production of the awareness-raising video that was released on Tuesday 12 January. "In the long term, the goal is for young people to feel able to take a stand, and even to get the adult leaders of the club involved, in order to change a male-dominated sports culture that is quick to normalise behaviours and actions that fall within what is considered gender violence," explains Martín.
The normalisation of gender violence behaviours
Three youth teams of players from the Osona Female Basketball Club and the members of a male youth team from Vic Basketball Club participated in the debate sessions. One of the main conclusions from the debates is that "girls are almost forced to endure harassment on social media, where they have to deal with boys who ask them repeatedly and in a "very annoying" way to go out with them. Neither the first, nor the second or the third "no" appears to be sufficient in these cases. Some of the girls also acknowledge that their team-mates have justified gender violence behaviour by their boyfriends, especially related to their boyfriends' control over their social networks, the company they keep and the friendships they have." The study also finds that girls are more afraid to go out alone at night than boys, and that "they repeatedly send messages of reassurance when they go out at night and arrive home."
The boys acknowledge that "controlling their girlfriends' lives is not healthy, and is the result of a lack of trust in them or even low self-esteem."
A video for taking a stand
The video produced within the project is available from this Tuesday on the UVic-UCC and Osona Sports Council channels, as well as those of various women's associations in the region. Using a specific case, it shows how gender violence behaviours can take place in sport and gives athletes tools "to take a stand against these behaviours and not to tolerate them." According to Martí, "these attitudes are too often considered normal, and the sports institutions are not doing enough to make them more visible or remedy them."
This video is part of a project funded by the State Agreement against Gender Violence (PEVG) programme of the Ministry of Equality of the Government of Spain. When carrying out this project and producing the resulting video, UVic-UCC was supported by the Municipal Sports Institute and Vic City Council as well as UMedia, UVic's audiovisual service.
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The European CO3 project is developing modulable open-source software to apply in citizen participation processes21.12.2020Three pilot tests in Paris, Athens and Turin are getting underway in the first few months of 2021 to get citizens involved in defining policies and taking public decisions which are usually taken by administrations, institutions and entities. They will be doing so within the framework of the European research project CO3. Transformative impact of disruptive technologies in public services, which has developed a digital platform for interaction among the different stakeholders involved in citizen participation processes, and via the use of disruptive technologies based on co-creation, co-production and co-management methodologies which engage all the parties affected. In 2020, the second of the project's three years, the software which will serve as the basis of each specific participative action was developed, and after initial testing, the pilot tests are now expected to get underway.
The CP3 project is led by the Università di Torino (Italy) with the participation of Ruth Sofia Contreras and Alejandro Blanco, researchers in the Research Group on Data and Signals Processing at the Universitat de Vic ? Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC). Both researchers are part of an interdisciplinary team that includes entities, companies and research centres in Greece, Italy, France and Spain. "More and more town halls, for example, are launching websites, mobile apps and other digital resources to encourage citizens to participate in decisions, but in practice these participation forums are seldom used, or their theoretical objectives don't match their practical application", Ruth Contreras says, pinpointing the point of departure of this initiative.
Software adaptable to each project
The second year of C03, 2020, has been wholly spent on developing the software underlying the platform where institutions and citizens will interact, which is now in the final co-production phase. Throughout this year, the developers of the disruptive technologies have delivered the software, which is comprised of ten modules, four of them visible and six of them invisible to users, which makes it incredibly flexible. "This enables the end application to be totally different for each project where it is used, as it can be adapted to the needs of each specific case via the programming", says Ruth Contreras. According to this researcher, via a website and mobile app, technologies like geolocated social media, augmented reality and tools to participate in surveys, debates or votes can be used depending on the specific needs in each case.
Addressing social issues via three pilot tests
Despite the fact that the development team has undertaken the first usability testing of the application this autumn, the third phase of the project will get underway next year, in which the software will be implemented in three pilot tests in Athens, Paris and Turin. Some of these adaptations to practical, specific and real cases were supposed to launch this autumn but were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Athens, the implementation of the software in the pilot test will be associated with a project by an NGO which will use it to create a support network for the homeless, who comprise a very large group in that city. In Paris, it will be transferred to an application which will give voice to people currently living in the area where the 2024 Olympics will be held to allow them to contribute to defining the new setting. And in Turin, the software will be used to launch a shared social housing project which aims to help to solve the housing problem in this city.
Moving ahead despite the pandemic
The researchers view this past year positively overall. Even though some of the project's actions have had to be postponed because of the pandemic, "all the partners involved have been able to continue working online, and even though it hasn't been the ideal situation, the most important thing is that we have been able to make headway in the development", says Ruth Contreras. The key to the project, this researcher asserts, is the co-creation process as the working methodology, which "entails getting all the affected parties involved and designing the product hand-in-hand with everyone who will use it". During the pandemic, this work process has proven to be a drawback that has forced some of the scheduled participation activities to be cancelled, transformed or postponed. "We have adapted the calendar and adjusted the methodology in order to continue working", says Contreras.
CO3 is a project financed by the European Horizon 2020 programme (subsidy 822615), it has an overall budget of almost ?3.2M and it is being led by the Università di Torino (Italy).
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UVic-UCC once again tops the transparency ranking for private universities16.12.2020The University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia once again tops the transparency ranking of Spanish private universities for the fourth consecutive - this year, tied with Nebrija University. This is the result of the 2019 Transparency Examination, which is organised by the Fundación Compromiso y Transparencia, and was announced last Monday.
This ranking examines the information that the 49 public and 26 private universities voluntarily publish on the website, about their staff, governance, board of trustees, their range of academic courses and the demand for them, and financial information and results, among other indicators.
UVic-UCC scored 47 points on a scale of 48, which shows compliance with 98% of the indicators evaluated. The University of Navarre is in third place, with 46 points. The tendency of UVic-UCC in the ranking is clearly in the ascendant, as it was classified as a translucent university in 2015, and it has been considered a transparent university since 2016, and held first place for the last four years.
The report classifies universities as transparent, translucent and opaque. Although the number of private universities considered transparent has doubled from three to six this year, 42% of centres are still classified as opaque after 9 years of evaluation.
Among the public universities, the Rey Juan Carlos, Cantabria and Castilla-La Mancha lead the ranking, with a total of 51 points out of 54. The report concludes that although unprecedented levels of transparency have been achieved to date, some outstanding issues remain, such as accountability by boards of trustees.
UVic-UCC would be at the top of a single hypothetical ranking of both private and public universities, together with Nebrija University, with compliance with 98% of the indicators, while the leading public university, Rey Juan Carlos, would be in fourth place, with 94%, just behind the University of Navarre (96%).
According to the foundation that compiles it, the aim of this ranking is to promote good governance, transparency, accountability and the social impact of institutions.
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