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Gavius is born, an innovative project at the service of the citizens that applies artificial intelligence

  • The European initiative Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) has awarded the grant to carry out this project, which consists of a virtual assistant to know and process social aid from a mobile phone.
  • Gavius has eight partners, led by Gavà City Council and from the fields of local administration, university and research, private enterprise and civil society.
  • The aim is to achieve a more proactive administration that facilitates the management of the citizenry. The pilot test will take place in Gavà and Mataró in the last quarter of 2021.

This November 15, the Gavius project was presented in Gavà, an innovative plan to create a virtual assistant for the administration. Through a mobile application and, with the use of artificial intelligence, the social aids available to the citizens will be communicated to them. They will also be able to process and receive them in a convenient, fast and easy way: they will be identified through a secure system and will be able to apply for and manage aid on the spot. The technical staff in charge of managing and granting the aid will also have their virtual assistant, as well as the managers of the municipal budget, who will be able to distribute them more effectively.

The mayor of Gavà, Raquel Sánchez, expressed her satisfaction at being able to lead this project, stating that “we have a very important challenge ahead, with a very clear goal: to make life easier for citizens.” Sánchez added that “we have a very ambitious vision of what we can contribute from the City Council. We are a medium-sized city but capable of creating and leading projects that can be an important innovation in the relationship that, as an administration, we must have with the citizens.”

This project was born from the will of the councils of Gavà and Mataró to take a step forward to become a proactive administration, through new technologies and the management of Big Data. With Gavius, it is committed to being a smarter administration, always citizen-oriented, modern, accessible and adapted to digital transformation. In today’s society, technology is an essential factor in addressing social challenges and rethinking public management. In this sense, Raquel Sánchez has stated that “in a globalised and digitalised world, from the public administration we must take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us to establish a relationship with the citizen that is closer, of higher quality, more comfortable and that allows us to provide a better service.”

Initially, the new virtual assistant will be applied to the field of Social Services. Sánchez explained that “we have a challenge ahead, to place the centre of the project in the people who have more needs and from there to apply this model of relationship and provision of services to citizens in other uses that allow improving the relationship of the administration with the citizens.”

Gavius requires an investment of 5.3 million euros, of which the European fund of the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) program will finance 80% with a grant of 4.2 million. The rest will be borne by the project partners, who have worked with representatives of the so-called “quadruple helix” (business, administration, citizenship and research). Each of these sectors contributes its vision: the business world that of the digital transition that public administration has to face and the analysis of the legislative challenge concerning data protection; university research and investigation centres focus on the application of artificial intelligence and legal limits; civil society will work to have a usable application, with ethical content and that preserves the digital identity; and the public administration is responsible for implementing the project in the cities of Gavà and Mataró, studying how to extrapolate it to other European municipalities.

Precisely, Raquel Sánchez wanted to emphasise this collaboration: “the Gavius project requires a lot of knowledge, economic, technical and human resources that are contributed by the different partners. Without them, it would not be possible to carry it out since, as a public administration, we do not have the necessary resources.”

For his part, the Mayor of Mataró, David Bote, spoke about the three concepts represented by Gavius, such as democracy, the metropolis and the fight against inequality. “Democracy because an incipient technology such as artificial intelligence is directly approaching the lives of citizens through social policies. A fact that will help combat inequalities and be more efficient by improving the social services of public administrations. And metropolis because in each city we have our history, but we share a territory and many challenges that can be addressed together to find solutions, collaborate to go much further.”.

The managing director of the Open Administration Consortium of Catalonia, Marga Bonmatí, spoke about the role of his organisation, explaining that “our task is to promote the digital transformation of all public administrations and to promote all those services aimed at citizens. It is precisely in this area that we can contribute our knowledge, and we can transfer the experience to other municipalities.”

The presentation event was attended by other representatives who are part of the project such as Xavi Farrés of the company XNet, José M. Yúfera of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Anna Font on behalf of the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) and, by the companies GFI and EY, Felip Prieto and Francisco Javier Ferre respectively. All the representatives of the partnership have agreed in expressing the advantages that the Gavius project will represent in the relationship between the administration and the citizens and the possibilities of exporting its result.

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