Mercat de les Flors – February 19th
The talks in the Sants district started with the debate “Cities, Migrations and Technologies” held at the Mercat de les Flors. The participants were Sara Bayés, who has more than 15 years of experience coordinating projects on democratic governance, and Ramon Sanahuja, director of the Immigrant Care and Welcome Department of the Barcelona City Council. It was moderated by Eva Garcia Chueca, the scientific coordinator of the Global Cities programme of the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB).
Ramon Sanahuja began by speaking about his experience at the Barcelona City Council to compare the positive and negative impacts of technology on the migratory process. On the one hand, he stated that it would be interesting for the public administration to previously contact people interested in moving there in order to provide them with information prior to their arrival. Furthermore, today’s technology includes simultaneous translation tools which make communication easier. From the standpoint of efficiency, technology can help speed up bureaucratic paperwork, and fewer documents need to be printed. However, if there is one change that has truly signalled a turning point in the life of immigrants, he stated that it was applications like Skype, a cheap, easy way of staying in daily contact with their home countries.
At the same time, the technification of the migratory process has another side. There is an increasing circulation of false information among the migrant community, which generates false expectations. One the one hand, the introduction of appointments has optimised the management of the demand and gotten rid of the queues in front of foreign affairs offices, but on the other, it has also dehumanised the treatment. Related to this other factor, he asked the following question: Might the advent of ICTs and the possibility of living in permanent connection with the home country act as a barrier to multicultural relations among people from cultural different origins and contexts?
After that, Sara Bayés stated that at a time of risk, such as the migratory process, technology offers security because it provides access to information and the migrant can stay in touch with their loved ones. However, before moving, it is important to get information on the destination, such as administrative information of knowing whether you will have any acquaintances there, a key fact in the choice of destination which, among certain populations, determines that the majority of migrants come from the same region.
Once the adaptation phase is over, the migrants can create initiatives to help their home country, and here technology is also a powerful ally, claims Sara Bayés.
Next was the dialogue on “Migrations: The Frontiers of a Connected World”, held at the Mercat de les Flors. The participants were Blanca Garcés, a researcher on migration at CIDOB; Gonzalo Fanjul, a researcher and activist against poverty; Francisco Cos Montiel, director of research at the University of the United Nations (UNU-GCM); Adela Ros, researcher; and Ignacio Sequeira, director general of the Fundación Exit. The head of the society section and director of El País Web Cataluña, Anna Pantaleoni, moderated the gathering.
Blanca Garcés suggested that the perception of poverty has increased with the new technologies. Globalisation has made the world a global village, and the aspirations and reference models of youths are forged in the models they see in the media, which oftentimes represent cities in wealthier countries.
With the unification of humanity thanks to technology, the inequalities of peoples are now taking the place that class equality had played until now. “When we think about borders, we think about physical ones”, said Blanca Garcés, “but actually the main border has been the complication of visas”. Stating that “the new revolution is immigration, and it is done by individuals and families who have taken individual decisions and are inspired not by future utopias but by photos taken from Google Maps on the other side of the border”. This is why she believed that we should not talk about the digital divide but the digital contradiction of a world that we can visit virtually and bodies that want to move and cannot.
Next, Adela Ros began by criticising technological determinism and putting too many expectations in technology. Even though we are in the information society, the same structures that favour inequalities are reproduced in the access to technologies. For example, there are restrictions on having a mobile phone card depending on one’s legal status, and immigrants come upon difficulties paying for access to the Internet. Therefore, digital exclusion does exist.
Francisco Cos Moniel opened up a new perspective by suggesting that in a future aged society where we will be able to create a body connected to a virtual intelligence which will give us the sense of performing an activity that our organs are no longer able to do, migrants will be the ones to care for our elderly. Based on this relationship between migration and care, the speaker suggested that women will be among the most affected by the robotization of unskilled jobs in developing countries, because job precariousness could foster some women’s return to being homemakers, which would entail a step backwards.
On the issue of provenance, Gonzalo Fanjul claimed that the place we are born does not necessarily determine our fundamental rights, and this is why he firmly believes in the right to immigrate. He stated that “right now there is a symbiosis between technology companies, the defence industry and governments, which results in Smart Borders, or biometric detection systems at border checkpoints”.
Ignacio Sequeira finished the debate by reflecting on adolescents and immigration, saying that immigrant children have mobile phones but no data. Not having data means that they do not have permanent access to the web with many images, like Instagram, since these applications consume lots of data, and this is indeed a digital divide which sets them apart from others in their generation.
The Sants-Montjuïc district hosted the LABS centred on: “Let’s Rebuild the Sign of Casinet Civic Centre in Hostafrancs”, the workshop “Make an Air Pollution Metre Using the Internet of Things (IoT)”, “Fusion 360 Workshop” and “Creating Videogames Using Façade Mapping”, all of them led by the digital community leader Belén Fernández, a trainer in 3-D design, digital manufacturing and the new technologies applied to education and communication.
The first workshop invited participants to help design and manufacture the sign on the stage of the Casinet in Hostafrancs at FAB Casa del Mig. Once the winning design had been determined, it was digitally manufactured with a laser cutter at the FAB Casa del Mig and placed atop the Casinet stage. This workshop was held in conjunction with the Secretariat of Entities of Sants, Hostafrancs and La Bordeta, the Casinet Civic Centre in Hostafrancs, FAB Casa del Mig Punt Multimédia and the Joan Peregrí school.
The second LAB held at the MADE Makerspace allowed participants to manufacture an air pollution metre using a microcontroller and carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors for temperature or humidity. With this prototype, the workshop also showed how these readings can be sent to smartphones using the IoT and how we can get real-time readings of the air pollution in the city.
Belén Fernández also held the “Fusion 360 Workshop” in the FAB Casa del Mig in conjunction with 3D Print Barcelona and FAB Casa del Mig Punt Multimédia. This workshop sought to introduce participants to Autodesk’s Fusion 360, a new cloud-based 3-D CAD/DAM tool for product development which combines design, collaboration and industrial mechanics and machining in a single package.
To finish the week, the fourth LAB examined the creation of videogames, where the cooperating entities were Punt Multimèdia La Marina, CC Casa del Rellotge, Asso y Asso, La Marina Viva, Telenoika, Revista Young and La Marina. Youths aged 10 to 16 learned how to programme a videogame, they experimented with conductivity in order to allow several people to play at once by interacting with their body, and later the participants played with it on the façade of the CC Casa del Rellotge.
During Mobile Kids Day on Saturday the 24th of February, the youngest participants enjoyed the workshop held in the Plaça del Sortidor, where Belén Fernández taught “Creative Family Technology”, devoted to overcoming technological challenges with different robotic platforms and creating their first designs using a 3-D pencil. This workshop was held in conjunction with Tb Kids Tecnología Creativa, El Sortidor Civic Centre and 3D CPI.
Mobile Week Barcelona enjoys the cooperation and support of different entities and institutions to expand its activity programme, spread its impact and encourage the stakeholders in the city to participate more. In the Sants-Montjuïc district, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya participated with “William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Great Britain”.