U-Porto student’s digital innovation wins award with the UN seal

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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 “Tourism & Culture”. The app developed by students from the College 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 at 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 of accessing 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 let their visitors and tourists know the stories that these places have to tell”, adds Afonso Cunha.

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

Founded in 2003, the World Summit Awards is an initiative organised by the United Nation that awards ideas “with a clear focus on digital innovation with social impact and in relation to the UN Goals for Sustainable Development”.

This year, 180 countries were present in the international stage of the competition, a part of the series of initiatives involving activities with start-ups, social entrepreneurs, mentors, speakers, experts, government leaders, academia, and civil society in promoting local social innovation.

In all, 40 solutions were awarded, among more than 290 nominations, in areas such as Governance and Civil Engagement, Health and Welfare, 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” has been distinguished after being considered by Tourism Explorers as the best national tourism startup in 2020. 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”.