Local Impact Through European Collaboration with Una Europa

On 8th May, Una Europa concluded UNA.TEN – “Transform Emergency Now! 10 days for change”. UNA.TEN was set up as a pan-European student hackathon to tackle challenges in COVID19 post-emergency times. Based on an open innovation design process, student teams from all participating Una Europa universities joined forces with local partners to find solutions to four specific COVID-related challenges: (1) Rethinking entertainment and culture, (2) Securing privacy and preventing misconceptions in a digital world, (3) Ensuring traveller safety, and (4) Avoiding food waste.

In total, UNA.TEN attracted more than 100 students who worked together in 19 teams. KU Leuven, Università di Bologna and Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie joined the competition with four teams each, addressing all four challenges. The three teams of Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne addressed challenge 1, 3 and 4 respectively, while the University of Edinburgh’s teams worked on challenges 1 and 3. The team of Helsingin Yliopisto focused on challenge 3. The team of Universidad Complutense de Madrid, which even included students from Peru and Ecuador, tackled challenge 1. A comprehensive overview of all solutions will be posted on www.una-europa.eu.

The two University of Edinburgh teams created astonishing work in the 10 days as they worked on solutions for Edinburgh Festivals and Fringe focusing on how entertainment and culture have been drastically affected by COVID-19, and for Talbot Rice Gallery and the dilemma they now face ensuring visitor safety.

Team one, who accepted the first challenge – rethinking entertainment and culture -partnered with the Edinburgh Festivals and Fringe and set about to design an immersive experience called EdinGo, which would connect international networks of audiences and performers within virtual but distinctly Edinburgh spaces. Over the course of the 2-week design sprint they went from the initial problem – how can the festivals continue in this COVID-19 and post-COVID world? – to an in-depth proposal for an interactive platform, informed by stakeholder perspectives.

Every year the Edinburgh Festivals attract around 4 million attendees from across the globe, and thousands of performers from over 70 countries, to a unique experience characterised by fluidity, discovery and human connection. However, the impact of COVID-19 means that physically gathering in Edinburgh this year would be impossible and raises obstacles to planning for the next few years. The proposed platform EdinGo initially places the user in a the city through Google Street View, facilitating exploration of the historic city itself with the option to access Twitch performer rooms (pre-paid or free-to-access). It includes features such as an interactive tour-guide to immerse international attendees in the city, which is optional allowing regulars to frequent their old haunts once again, as the platform could provide virtual access to local spaces (further supporting the local economy).

Team two, who accepted the third challenge – ensuring traveller safety – partnered with Talbot Rice Gallery and created a social distancing framework with up scalable or de-scalable assets called, Synergy. The team narrowed their focus to social distancing as a key objective to tackle, which inspired Synergy, the analogue or digital social distancing framework universally adaptable to various indoor and outdoor narratives.

Their aims where to provide a hospitable experience while achieving social distancing measures, avoid long waits, people gathering, and control entry numbers. The gallery presented the team with a multicomplex of room sizes and shapes, narrow corridors and stairs. Synergy from the start was a concept in which they wanted a fluid framework that could be used by Talbot Rice Gallery along with other museums, galleries, and various social infrastructures. To achieve this, they designed the lily pad navigation system (shown below). The system is made up by a Familial pad, Individual pad, Distance pad, Non-stair pad and Synergy pad.

To continually express the synergy framework, the team recommended giving visitors the Synergy lanyard (example below). This lanyard specifically expresses the system in the Talbot Rice Gallery; however, the aim is that the more locations that use the Synergy framework the lanyard will create a social familiarity with the system. The lanyard can be upgraded with NFC/RFID to incorporate contact tracing. This digital element of the Synergy framework is still in progress by the team.

The team chose the Synergy framework to be as tactile and analogue as possible. This was to allow for a quick and cost-effective roll out of the system. However, every element of the Synergy framework has a digital element. Take the Synergy pad as an example, this pad can be upgraded with pressure sensors that once stood on creates an allocated time for the person before needing to move to the next pad. The team envision a more digital implementation of the Synergy framework being used in places with vast numbers of people or who need tighter movement control.  As well, accessibility was a key point for the team. For now, as seen in the diagrams the lily pads are circular but different shaped versions of the pads are in the works to allow for clearer identification for people with visual impairments.

EdinGo and the Synergy framework are open source and usable by all. Please feel free to contact designinformatics@ed.ac.uk for further information and to connect with the teams.

Finally, a big thank you to both teams for all their hard work and to the academics, Arno Verhoeven, Chris Martin, and Chris Speed, for all their support.

Team One – Festivals
Diwen Yu
Veranika Bandarovich
Yixuan Wang
Yongrao Du

Sarah Bennett
Pushpi Bagchi

Team Two – Social Distancing
Lars Hopman
Carmen Valenzuela
Yu Zhao
Laura Gonzalez
Richard Murphy

Ryan Bowler
Lucy Havens