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U.Porto students' digital innovation wins a United Nations prize

U.Porto students' digital innovation wins a United Nations prize
Porto. · 16 Feb 2022
In search of digital innovations with social impact, the World Summit Awards 2021 found in "ZoomGuide" one of the best proposals in the area of "Culture & Tourism". The app developed by students from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto was recognised by the initiative with the seal of the United Nations.

What Pedro Carvalho and Afonso Cunha, from the Masters in Engineering and Software FEUP, created was a kind of tourist guide that uses artificial intelligence.

According to Notícias UP, the "ZoomGuide" platform aims to "make the discovery of culture more interactive and accessible, giving users the possibility to access multimedia content available in several languages" and "cities and places the opportunity to interconnect offers and promote culture and tourism".

"The digital platform allows organisations such as museums, monuments, palaces and cities to make their visitors and tourists aware of the stories that these spaces have to tell," adds Afonso Cunha.

Also for students, the pandemic proved to be an opportunity to demonstrate "the importance of digital solutions". For the founder of "ZoomGuide", "this year's winners [of the World Summit Awards] are an example of how digital applications can help protect the environment, support healthcare, provide high-quality, inclusive education, connect people and share relevant information".

Founded in 2003, the World Summit Awards is an initiative organised by the United Nations that rewards ideas "with a clear focus on digital innovation with social impact and the relationship with the UN Sustainable Development Goals".

This year, 180 countries were present in the international phase of the competition, a part of the series of initiatives that involve activities with startups, social entrepreneurs, mentors, speakers, experts, government leaders, academia and civil society in promoting local social innovation.

In all, 40 solutions were awarded, from over 290 nominations, in areas such as Governance and Civil Engagement, Health and Well-being, Learning and Education, Environment and Green Energy, or Inclusion and Empowerment. According to the Portuguese Association for the Development of Communications (APDC), the entity that led the national jury, quoted in a press release by Dinheiro Vivo, the projects were chosen for their creative use of technology, with smart solutions "that leave no one behind, reinforcing connectivity and sustainability".

This is the second time that "ZoomGuide" is distinguished after, in 2020, it was considered by Tourism Explorers as the best tourism startup at national level. For the future, reveals Afonso Cunha, "we want to expand the network of cultural spaces and cities, continue to develop the technology and take the first steps abroad".