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By Denise Matthews

Historically, innovation has changed the course of how humans co-exist, mostly accelerated by need or crisis. The inception of money, the electric light, the printing press, the list goes on. Fast forward to just over a decade the financial crisis of 2008 gave us Bitcoin together with the meteoric rise of Airbnb and Uber.

This was one of the points made by Santiago Lavallaz from IOV Labs in one of the many virtual panel discussions hosted by One Media Events in April with the theme “What’s next for Bitcoin?” joined by other leading industry experts like Eddy Travia and Malcolm Palle from Coinsilium. And thus the need to adapt our business models with the transition from live events to online began. Not without a teething problem or two, even for those who are accustomed to remote and online work processes.

It brings endless possibilities for business and Gibraltar.

The internet has been awash with children and pets photobombing, Zoombombing, dodgy internet connections and garish memes of the new norm which have conceded empathy and humour to our days. On the bright side, aside from staying connected to the outside world, it has broadened the potential for unlimited participation which comes with endless possibilities for business and Gibraltar.

The acceleration to embrace tech solutions and apps began with remote work and online education during April too. Fully embracing this adoption in business always raised the question of delivery from employees and teams but in the present scenario need overtook these. Zoom video communications topped the worldwide charts for mobile application downloads in April, and the market value soared to $42bn – more than eight times the market capitalization of Consolidated Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways.

As the World Health Organisation, European Union, Governments, leading tech companies such as Apple and Google all look towards Health Care Information Technology (HCIT) for solutions to the global pandemic that is Covid19, behind the scenes locally there are some amazing use cases that involve technology, innovation entrepreneurship, good causes and collaboration that deserve our attention.

APP Inspiration

Nicole Torres Byrne’s involvement with disabilities began as it does with many people, a personal experience in 1996. She was then introduced to the Gibraltar Disability Society becoming a member of the committee with Agnes Valarino soon becoming her mentor to reference for all things surrounding disability. Her dedication and work have resulted in Nicole being the only Supported Employment Practitioner with the Department of Education in Gibraltar. Supported Employment is a method of working with persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups to access and maintain paid employment in the open labour market, not to merely seek employment but finding the right job match. Supported Employment is underpinned by a set of values and principles that ensure each person and their employer receives a high quality, consistent service and support.

During one of the workshops she attended she came across ‘ENABLE’ a major Scottish charity which provides life skills training, education and employment support for people who want to start or further their career. At said workshop, ENABLE we’re showcasing a smartphone app called ‘ENABLE Me’ that had been developed pro-bono by J.P. Morgan. It did not really suit the Gibraltar model but she was inspired and hopeful that we could develop a tailor-made version. That is when software developer and business consultant start-up, cobovec.com, stepped in with founder Valli Fragoso offering to work on the project of building an APP called ‘SYNergise’. They have since delivered a brilliant demo which has been described as beyond expectations. The launch is due in the next few months.

Similarly building solutions to an everyday problem locally are the founders of queuewiselylimited.com. Carl Hallam and Alfredo Morante got together to brainstorm a bespoke algorithm that takes a user’s phone location data and the community to power that algorithm that would give real time user crossing times. Within the first 2 weeks they got over 2000 users. The idea came after waiting in a 2-hour queue trying to cross for a family dinner round a friend’s house. They released how difficult it was for Google and Waze to gauge traffic jams with such a short distance of 1km.

The outcome is reducing the frontier CO2 footprint by over 50%.

Aggregators of Data

The next problem they have solved was people rely on so many data sources i.e. flight times, web cameras; and the frontier hotlines. So custom APIs were built that pulled all of that content into one place. With all this data users could then set alerts allowing them to get warnings when the queue got too heavy or the runway was about to close.

Looking to the future, they have already shared the technology with the Chief Minister and Government with the hope to launch a partnership for a project on data analysis of the carbon impact of the frontier queue. The data science capabilities with such a large conversation around our carbon footprint happening at the moment aims to display the benefits of the Government’s data integration. They spent a couple of late nights correlating the impact of the speed of travel and CO2 Emission. The outcome is to empower users with choices thereby voluntarily reducing the frontier CO2 footprint by over 50%

There is no magic formula to save the world but when talent comes together the results can be life-saving, as is the case for GHA’s consultant microbiologist, Dr Nick Cortes. He is part of the team at Basingstoke Hospital in Hampshire which has developed a new, faster COVID-19 test producing results in twenty minutes versus eighteen to twenty hours. This led to Dr Cortes bringing the test to Gibraltar, ahead of much of the UK, supplementing the testing regime on the Rock to be able to provide the data to the monitor spread. By early May, Gibraltar ranked fourth in the world in terms of tests per capita (million) with the Faroe Islands, Iceland and United Arab Emirates leading the ranks. A prime example of how the above-mentioned technology, innovation entrepreneurship, good causes and collaboration can lead us to great things.

Our virtual events are keeping us connected to all the initiatives in new business ideas and start-ups. Stay tuned at onemediaevents.com.

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