INESC TEC researcher participates in UN Conference at Google
João Paulo Cunha, coordinator of INESC TEC’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research, was the only Portuguese at the conference organised by the United Nations, which took place on 21 and 22 March at Google’s headquarters in Montain View (USA).
The goal of this event is to ensure that individuals or communities affected by conflicts or natural disasters have a voice in projects and programmes launched for their benefit.
About 175 senior professionals participated in this event, representing technology companies, humanitarian agencies, academia, universities and government entities from various countries.
One of the systems that the INESC TE team is developing has been presented at the conference. The system is being developed as part of the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program, funded by the FCT, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, the Portuguese company Biodevices S. A., and an American startup company called Incident Aid.
The technological solutions developed by INESC TEC to be presented by the professor are wearable sensors that make it possible to verify, for example, cardiac function (through electrocardiogram - ECG), respiration and body temperature, and assess fatigue rates, stress levels, exposure to heat and harmful gases (such as carbon monoxide). In addition to the vital signs, the technology developed, integrated into emergency communication, alarm and critical event management systems, can be used to verify the positioning of first responders, João Paulo Cunha explained.
The conference was organised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which is responsible for bringing together several humanitarian and logistics agents to respond to emergency situations effectively.
Technological changes have had a major effect on humanitarian operations and if in the past organisations only used radios and telephones, today it is possible to use satellite systems, drones, smartphones and computers to collect, share and analyse information.
It is estimated that subscriptions to mobile devices will exceed the global population by 2020 and that more than half of the world's population will have rapid access to the Internet, with humanitarian organisations being able to use technology to respond more effectively and efficiently to natural disasters or conflicts that may occur.
The theme of the 2017 conference was “Empowering Affected People” and featured various sessions dedicated to the themes: communications in affected communities, data collection, visualisation and analysis, digital identification, data privacy, digital payments, among other topics.
The researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with UP-FEUP.