“Fundación Tecnologías Sociales (TECSOS), translated as Social Technologies Foundation” is a non-profit entity created in 2002, by Spanish Red Cross and Spanish Vodafone Foundation.
TECSOS links the social experience of the Spanish Red Cross with the technological excellence of Spanish Vodafone Foundation, with the aim of addressing social needs through innovative Information and Communication Technologies that takes into account ethical aspects and contributes to improving people’s skills with special emphasis on the most vulnerable.
Communication and Information Technologies (ICT) are revolutionizing and transforming our society, they are an inherent part of our daily life both in the personal and professional sphere. ICTs have become universal and we have so internalized them that it is difficult for us to think of a world without the Internet, computers or mobile phones. However, Their application is uneven, with sectors making intensive use of ICTs and others, such as the field of social intervention in general and care for vulnerable people in particular, where its incorporation is has lagged behind. To break this gap and under the conviction that ICT could also be a very useful tool, the Spanish Red Cross and the Vodafone Foundation set up the Social Technologies Foundation (TECSOS).
Many elderly users of home telecare wanted to have the same sense of safety inside and outside their homes. In this context, in order to promote active and healthy aging among the population, CRE decided to create a new service that, through a mobile device, would expand the service outdoors: “Mobile Telecare”.
This was the first of the many projects promoted by TECSOS at the service of the population. Currently the initiatives developed are aimed at different groups such as the elderly, people with disabilities, women victims of gender violence, Children and Youth, Immigrants and Refugees, People at Risk of Social Exclusion and People at risk of Digital Exclusion.
Technical details & Operations
The Foundation combines the social knowledge provided by the Spanish Red Cross and the technological excellence provided by the Vodafone Foundation. Both entities share vision and decision-making with the same responsibilities and the same economic contribution. The Foundation’s Board is comprised of people from both entities, alternating the presidency every two years between the president of the Spanish Red Cross and that of the Vodafone Spain Foundation. The technical work team is composed mainly of engineers with a social background, allowing the sharing of experience from the social and technological fields. In relation to the Strategic Plan, it is reviewed every four years and an Action Plan is agreed upon each year to identify the projects and activities.
The projects and activities both nationally and internationally are aligned with the following objectives:
- Proximity and collaboration | Reaching the most vulnerable people, exchanging knowledge and promoting collaborative work and networking.
- Applied and sustainable innovation | Addressing the real needs of the most vulnerable groups, through innovative solutions, designed for all.
- Ethical innovation | Making ethics issues a key point between the creation of solutions and people.
- Influence | To be a model that is able to influence and generate trends in the development of ICT solutions adapted to the most vulnerable
Deployment & Impact
Cycle of innovation
The implementation of TECSOS projects is based on an innovation process in stages. The methodology is adapted to the social context and the application of technologies. The stages give coherence to the final solution:
- Phase of Identification of a real need from the social sphere/scope. This stage includes creativity sessions, hackathons, knowledge acquisition methodologies, etc … Involving the beneficiaries and the environment.
- Study and prospecting of technology to choose the most appropriate solution.
- Functional and technical implementation of the solution that will cover the need that has emerged. In this phase, not only is the technological solution implemented, but the service, attention or interaction issues between the user and the service that is being designed is also assessed.
- Stage of technical validation led by the TECSOS team of engineers to test that the technology works correctly.
- Stage of validation by experts, carried out by professionals from the social sector.
- Pilot with users. During the pilot stage, the complete solution will be validated in what will be its real scenario.
- Transfer of the pilot to society. In this phase the tested products and services are put into real context. TECSOS maintains an accompanying role until the solution is fully implemented.
One of the differential values that the Foundation contributes to the implementation of its projects is the application and ethical use of technology. Before starting an initiative, during listening and analysis phase, care is taken to profoundly understand the needs of the users. The objective is to clearly identify what technology helps, avoiding generating false arguments. It is essential to provide clear explanations, and rely on resources or sources of verification. It is important that the environment analysis phase involve not only the potential beneficiaries, who will be present throughout the process, but also those agents who will be key in the pilot and in the actual service. For example, when designing a service for hospitalized children, it is essential not only to speak with the children themselves, but also with their families, nurses, and doctors as well as to become familiar with the legislation of the hospital and know the limitations when designing the solution .
In TECSOS initiatives, technology is conceived as a tool that is at the service of social needs. Always under ethical, privacy and Universal Accessibility and Design for all criteria, it makes inclusive solutions that are as humanized as possible, available to as many people as possible and take into account different levels of digital literacy.
One of the main milestones of TECSOS is the development of Mobile Telecare, together with its advances in terms of universal accessibility. Another pioneering project is the Video Attention service, a video communication system and a cognitive stimulation system for the elderly. More recently the Orientatech.eu portal was launched, in which the main technological solutions and products for promoting personal autonomy and active aging are tested and compiled. Initiatives related to 5G have been the best choice since 2020, bringing the most advanced technology to offer services such as a 5G Affective Avatar for people in isolation or the rescue of people in emergencies through drones.
In the area of universalization, the creation of the PASOS protocol as a standard mobile telecare protocol, open and free communication between mobile telecare terminals and alarm centers that became the norm UNE 133503: 2013 and currently incorporated by the main telecare manufacturers.
Currently more than 16,000 people are served by the projects attended by TECSOS and transferred to society. Regarding the social impact, there are more than 1,000,000 people reached through Social Networks, web spaces and internet channels. It should also be noted that the Foundation has been recognized by more than 15 awards nationwide for its work and social action through ICT, highlighting the Prize of the Ministry of Health and Social Services IMSERSO Infanta Cristina.