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The UOC takes part in European project on mobile assistance for migrants

Autor: Whiteafrican/Flickr (CC)
18/03/2013 Migrants, when they arrive in the host country, have to face up to numerous social, cultural and economic challenges. Their social interaction is often limited. They have to learn a new language and culture, and they often have to come to terms with what is for them new technology. With this in mind, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC), together with an interdisciplinary consortium of universities, companies and NGOs, is taking part in the European MASELTOV project which aims to improve immigrants' integration in European host countries through the use of mobile devices.

Migrants at risk of social exclusion are the focus for the MASELTOV project. This initiative, which has received 3,751,000 euros in funding from the European Commission, aims to develop a series of applications designed to provide mobile assistance to these citizens quickly and easily. “The assistant will be a digital services platform to guide them through administrative procedures, learning the language and culture, and, in particular, gaining work and getting involved socially,” explained the researcher Adela Ros, the UOC's member on the project.

Beyond offering access to social networks and information searches, the application will also provide a series of innovative resources, including language learning or translation of texts using the camera on mobile phones. In turn, it also will also include leisure activities, such as so-called serious games, simulation videogames with educational aims that can help people understand certain cultural differences or practise for job interviews, etc.

The pilot tests of the mobile assistant will take place during 2013 in London with immigrants from a number of countries and in Vienna with immigrants from Turkey. The digital platform is to be developed in Arabic, English and Spanish, the languages of the main groups taking part in the trial phase.

The UOC's Migration and Network Society research programme takes part in the project

The UOC is taking part in this initiative through its Migration and Network Society (MNS) research programme at the IN3 research institute. This programme aims to find out more about the use that immigrants make of ICTs. The results of the research into their daily needs and uses will be incorporated in the design of the MASELTOV application. “Many young immigrants use their mobiles for translation, finding their way around the city or getting a doctor's appointment. Mobiles are increasingly vital at the time of arrival,” said Ros, the programme's lead researcher.

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