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SenseCityVity seeks to address social problems, with support of young students and mobile devices Zona Franca, Mexico

León, Guanajuato- "This is an initial project that seeks to understand how mobile devices can be used to analyze problems in the urban-social context". This is a pilot project that will be done with the participation of a group of students from the CECYTEG high school in the city of Guanajuato.

This is how Dr. Salvador Ruiz Correa described SenseCityVity, a collaboration between Switzerland and Mexico that was conceived in the Center For Mobile Life Studies last year. The objective is that citizens become a factor of social change utilizing mobile technologies as tools for fixing and understanding problems in the socio-urban context.

SenseCityVity has begun its work in Mexico as a project in collaboration with not only with the Center For Mobile Life Studies, but also involving Idiap Research Institute, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne and the Centro Nacional de Supercomputo del Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica.

The project is in its initial stage, and is starting activities in Guanajuato, Mexico. The projects slogan is "Observe, Feel, and Share".

The Urban Challenge will commence when teams of students set out to obtain multimedia information, documenting problems of their interest in the urban-social realm, which will be used to create mini documentaries that will have to purpose of generating awareness of the problems, and also possible solutions. The challenge will take place in CECYTEG, Guanajuato City campus, starting this month.

One of the main objectives of SenseCityVity is the study of synergies between community participation and the use of mobile technologies. With a multidisciplinary approach in both Switzerland and Mexico, the project can be considered as a combination of both scientific research and community action. While urban and social phenomena are studied, citizen participation is promoted towards positive action, utilizing modern technology.

100 students of the CECYTEG will form groups of 10 persons; teams will be given mobile devices and will receive a training course with respect to what urban problems are and why it is important to understand them. Teams will go into the field to document the problems, and once the information is collected during 4 weeks, the most valuable multimedia information will be selected.

Once the information is ready, a critical approach will be applied to the urban problems under analysis (seen, observed and documented.) A festival will be organized, that will showcase documentaries in a public space, where these ideas will be exposed. SenseCityVity will donate two electronic blackboards to the School.

"With this information" according to Ruiz Correa" the students are going to generate ideas, because one of the objectives is for them to be proactive in their community. "The urban challenge will start this week, and the collection of data will last around a month".

"The community itself will define the problems and how to address them, what we are trying to do is to get the community to sum its efforts in addition to institutional efforts."

Finally, Itzia Ruiz Correa, leader of SenseCityVity.Media, says that she hopes that the project can expand and work with other institutions.

By Bernardo Monroy, March 11, 2014
(Translation Credit: Salvador Ruiz)