MASELTOV: A System Administrator Helping Migrants

IT is all about data. That’s definitely true. But, what about people? I’m not talking of wealthy customers ready to get in line for a couple of days just to be the first silly dude owning the last gold plated smartphone model. This kind of people are well placed in the middle of the heart of our companies. That’s the business, baby. The business! And there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing!
Sometimes it is sad to think that we spend so more time to assure five nines uptime in order to let someone update his/her status on facebook to let the whole world know of his/her new toy.

In my own case, working now also as a researcher, I can enjoy the pleasure to use my knowledge to improve transportation safety, via the e2Call project described here,  and working as work package leader in the European MASELTOV project, a smartphone application designed and (going to be) realized to help migrants integration in the European Community. MASELTOV is an eInclusion project 2012-2014 funded by the European Commission (FP7-ICT-7 No. 288587)

MASELTOV Project Logo
MASELTOV (Mobile Assistance for Social Inclusion & Empowerment of Immigrants with Persuasive Learning Technologies & Social Network Services.) recognizes the major risks for social exclusion of immigrants from the European information society and identifies the huge potential of mobile services for promoting integration and cultural diversity in Europe. Mobile – everywhere/everytime – persuasive assistance is crucial for more efficient and sustainable support of immigrants. MASELTOV researches and develops novel ICT instruments in an interdisciplinary consortium with the key objective to facilitate and foster local community building, raising consciousness and knowledge for the bridging of cultural differences.
MASELTOV realises this project goal via the development of innovative social computing services that motivate and support informal learning for the appropriation of highly relevant daily skills. A mobile assistant embeds these novel services that address activities towards the social inclusion of immigrants in a persuasive and most intuitive manner which is highlighted in MASELTOV with a representative application of most essential / beneficial information and learning services – such as ubiquitous language translation, navigation, administrative and emergency health services.
MASELTOV researches for and develops enabling technologies with the industrial potential to easily exploit and scale up the prototypical user shares within the embedment of already existing successful services with worldwide user coverage. The project with its scientifically, technically and socially relevant results will enable a massive social impact on the future with respect to more cooperative – more successful – integration of millions of (im)migrants living together with hundreds of millions cohabitating European citizens.
MASELTOV intends to motivate immigrants with persuasive learning services for the appropriation of the local second language, playful learning of cultural understanding and basic literacy. MASELTOV takes advantage of the interplay between learning and social computing in order to apply learning (i) through communication as well as (ii) in the situated context, i.e., right at the spot where it matters, therefore jointly reinforcing the learning effect and the fostering of social inclusion. (please, read more on the project website
In Telecom Italia Tilab task, we are developing a social network interface for smartphones, an inference engine to evaluate migrants needing via their status update on the social network (without collecting personal information), a social network trend analysis tool mainly based on Jacob Levy Moreno work and a GeoSocial Radar, a very interesting smartphone application well described by my colleague (and friend of mine, at least I hope so 🙂 ) Dr. Mark Gaved from Open University.

GeoSocial Radar is the MASELTOV app that links a MASELTOV user with nearby volunteers who are willing to help with resolving problems or tasks. It requires the GPS receiver to be enabled, so the app can indicate the proximity of different volunteers. On starting the app, the user can find who is available and how far away they are. A request for assistance can be made to an individual volunteer via a chat tool.
Sensor input:
Uses GPS
User Scenario:
GeoSocial Radar enables MASELTOV users to find nearby volunteers who can help them with a range of tasks. For language learning, this could include finding a native speaker who is interested in directly helping a recent immigrant practice their language skills, or incidentally support language learning by resolving an immediate need that introduces the learner to new vocabulary and phrases, such as finding a specialist food store, asking a doctor for medical help, or getting directions. Contextual support is a central element of GeoSocial Radar: it provides help to the user dependent on their immediate needs, taking into account where they are, and the time, as volunteers’ availability is time and place dependent.
Key information from the chat exchange between the user and the volunteer could be mined to identify terms which could then form the basis of future recommendations for language learning resources (“I see you have been seeking help about ‘doctors’ – would you like to practice a language lesson on health care?).

Taking care of people who need help is the most satisfying aspect of my daily duty. I like to think that this is a more esoteric way of doing system administrator tasks. We do not only deal with routers, servers uptime, boring backups and RTT, but also with real people that have no time to waste waiting on line for a new (sometime) useless toy.

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