The main focus point of this Mobile Talks session, held at CaixaForum Barcelona on Thursday, 30 May, was tackling transcendental issues such as knowing the impact of the digital transformation on the population or how this transformation could improve people’s lives.

Under the topic of “Digital Transformation and Responsible Technology for People”, four experts from the digital field focussed on the social sector reflected on the advances achieved in recent years thanks to innovation and on how they can develop alongside technologies to help improve people’s quality of life.

The session included Sonia Fuertes, Vice-president of the Catalan Third Social Sector Platform, Daniel McNeill, Digital Director of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Grace Mutung’u, researcher in ICT policy at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and Miquel de Paladella, CEO and cofounder of the innovative business UpSocial. The Mobile Talks session was presented by journalist Pipo Serrano, head of Digital, Strategy and Content at Broadcaster.

The Vice-president of the Catalan Third Social Sector Platform, Sonia Fuentes, highlighted the crucial importance and the capacity of technology for empowering people: “sometimes we think that technology separates people but this isn’t true, because we tend to be more connected and more empowered.”

Fuentes warned of the risk of consolidating a two-speed society when in Europe 25% of people are at risk of poverty, and she stated that we should think about how technology helps us to create a more inclusive society; what’s more, this is not just about solving problems but also coming up with pre-emptive solutions.

At the beginning of the talk, the Digital Director of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Daniel McNeill, explained the project developed in London so that visually impaired children in the city could get about independently without anyone’s help thanks to technologies and mobile apps.

McNeill wanted to warn about the risk of excluding people when designing online public services since social interactions could be drastically reduced for some individuals. He also highlighted how new technologies rapidly generate shifts in opinion that could change negative attitudes in one sector of society.

The researcher in ICT policy at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Grace Mutung’u, explained how “despite the image that Europeans have, in Kenya there are well connected cities and, despite their dark zones with a lot of people who don’t have access to the internet, a large swathe of the population does have access.”

Mutung’u confirmed that technology changes in a way that we can’t predict where it will go or how it will develop, and this fact has led us to the point now where we are discussing how to implement these technologies as a result of this unpredictability, since they can be used to develop projects that are positive for communities. In this respect, she also mentioned that “it’s not necessary to have complex ideas but it is important to address people with needs so that they are happier.”

In turn, the contribution of CEO and cofounder of UpSocial, Miquel de Paladella, drew attention to the fact that “last year, if we deem the data to be important, was the best year in the history of humanity: extreme poverty has been cut in half, the number of infants that survive their first year has increased, the number of girls finishing their secondary education is also the largest it has ever been and digital technology has helped, not only to make these milestones happen, but also to bring about great social advances in all fields.”

Miquel de Paladella also explained that “we need more efficient, effective and sustainable solutions that can be scaled up to reach the most vulnerable collectives and the most marginalised people,” and, in this context, “social innovation and responsible technology is not just a luxury but an imperative.”

Below you can find the full video of the session: