“Divide et impera”, popular ancient Rome motto later attributted to the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. “Divide and dominate” or better known as “Divide and rule”, was the strategic foundation on which the Roman Empire was built (27 bC – 476 ac). Almost nothing. In line with the political and military relevance of this slogan, in the mathematical field, it gave its name to one of the eight classic heuristic strategies of problem solving, together with codification, organisation, experimentation, analogy, introduction of auxiliary elements, search for regularities and assumption of the solved problem.The others are proper notation, solution drawing, systematic experimentation, analogy, introduction of auxiliary elements, problem reformulation and way back.
The solution strategy we are talking about is based on breaking a problem into a set of smaller sub-problems, solving these sub-problems, and combining the solutions. This methodology is widely used in various scientific fields and that under different names, theorems, or methos, such as the method of integration by parts (integral calculus) or the principle of virtual jobs (strength of materials), has promoted the resolution of complex problems by converting them into multiple “easily” solvable problems.
If there is one thing that characterises the world of engineering, it is precisely this eagerness to transform problems. We have all heard the joke about how an engineer calculates the volume of a cow and how, compared to the functions of approximation to a surface and its subsequent integration that a mathematician would carry out or the performance of a physicist using Archimedes’ principle and putting the cow in a swimming pool, the engineer would give his solution by approximating the cow to a sphere.
In the field of structural engineering, the branch in charge of the design and calculation of structural elements and systems to ensure in advance an optimal structural response (safe, resistant and functional) applies the mechanics of continuous media, a super nice calculation model in the “academic” world whose application in real life is very “chunky”. That´s why we resor to the finite element method, another “divide and conquer” engineering glorification, where the strategy is to convert the continuous medium into a finite number of parts, “elements”, whose behaviour is specified by a finite number of parameters at certain characteristic points or “nodes”. This is commonly called “simulation”, although it should at least be called numerical.
Professionally, I work in this area to design “things” optimally. But when these things are sets of configurable elements or product catalogues, and we want to cover all the options to offer the best, we could talk about the need to develop dimensioning applications or system and product calculation configurators.
Well, after years working on these developments for different sectors, I can say, without fear, that dismembering a project among the different knowledge teams will be the iceberg that leaves us frozen. It seems logical to think that if we are talking about the development of a robust validation application of a configurable product, we need someone who knows the product perfectly, with all its variants and possibilities, its terminology, its meaning, its cost and even its soul, if I may say so. In the same way that we need, at this level of knowledge, someone capable of calculating and validating the product in resistant and functional terms and who knows how to transform, transcribe or visualise this numerical validation in a user-friendly platform. NO, prepare the lifeboats. A dose of reality difficult to digest for an engineer and staunch defender of multidisciplinary projects like me and of breaking down problems. NOT EXACTYL, get lifeboats ready. A dose of reality difficult to admit for an engineer staunch defender of multidisciplinary projects.
Professional experience, with blood, sweat and tears included, has improved our conception of strategy, avoiding sectorial strategies that push the global objective, and ultimately the product, to the background. And to understand this, there is nothing better than the well known expression “cobbler to your shoes”. Do you know what I’m talking about, not yet?
However the presence of different team members’ roles in this kind of work, make it impossible to detect errors or incoherencies derived from lack of conception and lack of understanding cooperation between professionals. It is unavoidable. Architects and engineers do not speak on the same scale, for example. In addition sectoral strategies relegate the functions of the “expert of the product” to setting the norms, rules or ranges of consideration. Which seems quite illogical since the expert is separated from the course of the project. The question is how do we detect failures? and when? it may be even more important. Everything points to final report. So we work such as Titanic’s valiant musicians and we’ll see how the ocean of corrections treats us. I’m talking about that ocean like a succession of final versions succession in which we will be submerged by unforeseen failures and with the corresponding increasing final workload. Now we do know what we’re talking about, don’t we?
All this, without going into responsibilities which it have also been diluted. To blame are those who…If the person or persons responsible had bid me do so, I might have…
In this sense it is impossible to offer a service aimed to set up validation of configurable products application development if it is not a completely calculation project. So Turnkey project or I hope you are good swimmers.
However, trainings should also be conducted by people that are knowledgeable about the subject matter or the product, better even than costumer who can have been in the business for more than 30 years. We must become experts and think. It’s the only way to cope successfully such a service and that under a holistic approach where each part must be considered as one. So we avoid misinterpretations, unreasonable casuistic, excessive computing (no scale-resolving simulations) and cannot effectively communicate (the customer never knows what he wants until you show it to them). I want to stand out with it the necessity of acting “in” the moment and “for” the future.
For those interested in these possibilities… where are we going to find someone who wants to learn? To find someone who wants to ask questions? To find someone who can improve the product and performance for your company, and have the ability to do so. I am talking about to use experimental or scientific techniques, with computational capacity and that you can also implement it on a platform so that its usability improves, for example, the competitiveness of the different technical and sales departments of other companies? Can you imagine pressing a button to get the weekly job of a technician?
Cultural heritage, in the broad sense, is the legacy received from our ancestors, which becomes the testimony of their worldview, their ways of life and their way of being, having to be passed down to future generations. Knowing the cultural heritage is to know the identity of a specific society and let me dare say that, without doubt, it even helps us to discover ourselves.
When we are traveling to a certain place to “pick up” that knowledge, but being far away from stereotypes and trivializations, we are doing cultural tourism. Despite the fact that this type of tourism is sometimes controversial (fundamentally due to how resources are managed), it is unquestionable that it has nothing to do with sun and beach tourism. Even though Spain is the second country in the world for highest quantity (and quality) of cultural (and even natural) heritage, it surprisingly continues to present and sell ‘sun and beach’ tourism as almost exclusive. Cultural tourism represents a great opportunity for local development, decisively contributing to conserving and making heritage sustainable, since it has already been proven that generates resources and employment for the community. But for this to happen, it must be oriented not only for the benefit of cultural heritage in itself, but also for the people who inhabit the place where it is located. Only if the inhabitants are really an active component in tourism development, can the spark arise between heritage and cultural tourism, and then it will end up being a well-matched marriage beyond convenience.
The fact is that since the 1970s, when UNESCO launched the Convention on World Cultural and Natural Heritage, together with proposals to conserve and promote it, cultural tourism has experienced huge growth throughout the world, but especially in Europe, where it became really important since the 1980s. In fact, currently there are 1121 declared World Heritage Sites; the majority of them spread around three countries, two of which are European: China (55), Italy (55), and Spain (48).
Europe is a key cultural tourism destination thanks to an incomparable cultural heritage that includes museums, theatres, archaeological sites, historical cities, industrial sites as well as music and gastronomy. According to CARTIF’s analysis in 2021 for theTExTOUR project, it is estimated that cultural tourism accounts for 40%of all European tourism. This is generating 5 million direct jobs and contributing 143 billion Euros per year to the EU economy. Indeed the EU promotes a balanced approach between the needs to boost growth on one side, and the preservation of artefacts, historical sites, and local traditions on the other.
Pandemics apart, it is estimated that cultural tourism will remain one of the key markets in Europe. Interestingly, cultural tourists spend 38% more per day and stay 22% longer than other tourists. Germany is the largest European source market in terms of market size, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Spain. Trends show cultural tourism is slowly changing into creative tourism. With it, tourists actively participate in cultural learning experiences, getting in touch with local people and culture.
Cultural tourism originally was primarily driven by the interest of the baby boom generation (born late 1950s – mid 1970s) to visit major cultural sites and attractions, such as museums and monuments, often travelling in groups. The generations after them: generation Y (millennials: born 1980–1995) and generation Z (centennials: born 1995 – 2010), drive the demand for more authentic, unique, small-scale and personal experiences, plus the demand for popular and everyday culture. For them it is more important ‘to be’ somewhere, rather than ‘to go’ somewhere. These generations prefer to travel on their own, thus flat rental platforms and personally-driven services at local level are growing and growing.
Of course technology has made a substantial change in the habits of travellers. The recent publication of five new standards by the Spanish Standardization Committee (UNE) contributes to providing solutions to the challenges that destinations as well as the companies and agents that operate in them must address through a digital and sustainable model that definitely fits like a glove to the cultural tourism. This model strongly needs to be equal in technological and social development to the digitization of cultural heritage, which is the great pending issue, but CARTIF is ready to help. Do you need us?
Each landscape makes specific, different, unique feelings. When contemplating a meadow dotted with trees, we do feel something totally different from what we feel looking at a desert area. This also happens when facing cultural landscapes1. A Romanesque church does not make the same sensations as the ones perceived when contemplating cave paintings.
Numerous investigations conclude that there is a significant correlation between our personality and the landscape preferences. Other research argues that the human-landscape relationship has an “innate” basis, dating back to the survival needs of primitive humans, whose environment demanded perceptual abilities and predispositions, which today- at a psichological level- are still functioning. This explains why we still prefer open and slightly flat landscapes (watching predators), in addition to vegetation and good access to water (covering vital needs).
Then, it could be argued that the affective system brought into ply in landscape appraisal is a consequence of wider individual strategies concerning the personality, innate factors and the individual´s attitude towards the world (enhanced by their experiences and the society where they live).
In other words, the landscape assessment depends on factors that are totally subjective and, therefore, difficult to quantify. So what should I do if I want to measure “what we like” about a certain type of cultural landscape?
This is where the so-called “Affective Computing” pops up, which consists on the study and development of systems and devices able to recognize, interpret and process human emotions.
CARTIF, withinSRURAL project, is applying this set of techniques to obtain the “affection value” of any cultural landscape (“measuring how much you like the landscape”). To this ends, a cognitive system is being developed that on the one hand uses verbal language and facial expressions as input, and on the other hand, certain physiological signals (heart rate, sweating and body temperature while you are immersed into the landscape via virtual reality glasses)
All these inputs are introduced into a neural network previously trained by means of Deep Learning2 techniques to obtain the landscape´s “affection value” as useful output.
The “affection value” is very useful for decision-making by territory managers, for instance, to guide tourism promotion campaigns towards high affection values areas, but with no significant visits number. Also for profiling and segmenting tourists according to the type o landscapes they are most likely to visit, and thus to carry out targeted and more effective promotional campaigns.
It can also be used to know when it is necessary to take corrective measures or at least carry out a stud of causes in case of a tourist interesting area with a large number of visitors has a relative low affection value.
Since the decision-makers need few but very relevant information, as much graphical as possible, all kind of useful data is displayed in the most user-friendly for them y means of geolocated interfaces. Therefore, the system under development incorporates specific modules to show the information already processed, just ready to draw conclusions, which will quickly lead them to objective data-driven decisions upon Data Mining and Big Data techniques.
1 Is the landscape combining natural and cultural heritage. It has been modified by humans to be adapted to people´s needs according to their beliefs, economic activity, and the shaped society. The most obvious examples of these modifications are traditional crops, buildings and infrastructures.
It is a well-know fact how our environment has changed dramatically in the last years. This enviroment is in constant transformation, with uncertainities and aspects that are difficult to predict.
Construction sector in particular, hasn´t been oblivious to such changes. In Europe has a huge weight on the economies recovery, having a positive evolution that is expected to mantain. Nowadays we can talk about the confluence of two currents that affect to those growth. On one side, one that favours it: the stimules that receives with Next Generation funds. But on the other side, raw materials shoratge and the increase of prices to which is added the recurring problem of manpower shortage act against them. As well as was indicated in its projections at the end of 2021 the Euroconstruct report, construction sector at a european level will preserve inertia to grow in 2022 (3.65%), although for 2023 (1.5%) and 2024 (1.2%) it is considered a moderate advance.
In case of Spain, also pointed out a 8%growth in 2022. However, uncertainity has increased due to aspects like the inflation evolution and the deployment of the Recovery Plan defrayed by the aforementioned european funds. Although this funds offered a great potential for a growth of the activity, mainly in the rehabilitation case, it is also true that uncertainity wouldn´t allow reaching all the development that could be expected.
In addition to the problems that is facing the economy, the sector lso has to face huge challenges at a european level such as sustainability and digitalization. Traditionally the construction sector has not lent the same atention to innovation than other industrial sectors. Putting the focus on these aspects will allow a change on this industry, being both undoubtedly, the tracks of innovation of the sector.
It is necessary to think in a new approach, being the innovation an opportunity to create value. A way to accelerate this innovation process and improve the quality of its results pass through the collaborative research.
From the UE it is work is being actively pursued to strengthen the framework that support the focus of open innovation. The open innovation paradgime consist on “an innovation model based in a network and collaboration, in the co-creation betweent all the society actors crossing the organizational limits more over the normal collaboration schemes. This model allows reaching a great competitive advantage, as well as innovation benefits for a huge number of collaborators“.
A great example of open innovation collaborative european project is Metabuilding Labs project in which CARTIF participates and among whose objectives is the construction of an innovation system for the sector. This will include a national innovation system organized as “metaclusters” in the form of National Construction Technology Platforms. Some of those systems already exist and in other cases it will be necessary develop it as part of the project.
With its development, an open type of innovation is sought, gathering all the interesed parts of the value chain of the environment constructed in a new innovation ecosystem. All that through a sectorial digital platform and of a supranational grid of the facilities, capacities and OITB test services (Open Innovation Test Beds). This network covers 12 countries with a unique entry, the platform.
The objective of the open innovation test benches is making the new technological advances available for companies and users. This allows to advance in the introduction of compounds and elements in the market, going from the valorisation on laboratories to the prototype on indsutrial environments.
The development of the platform will allow a fluid communication and a dynamic mapping of the actives and environment resources both at a national an regional level. Innovative SMEs, will thus have access to resources, looking for involving it and giving supprot. This will achieve a critical mass taking advantage the consortium networks that allows them to develop and test new building envelope innovative solutions.
Inside these test facilities that will be offered, we can find the O3BET Building Enveloped Testbeds, The consortium will design, develop and give eight innovative test facilities for enveloped building elements. These facilites at a 1:1 scale, in real, affordable, industrialised conditions with all the sensors and needed equipment bridge the gap between laboratories tests and huge scale buildings, maintaning under control all the need interior conditions and letting that the outside conditions change in a real environment.
O3BET involved Open Source, Open Data and Open Access.
Open Source. It will be design such as an open BIM model available to all the actors, that take advantage of the maximum capacities of this methodology so partners and third arties easily replicated in all Europe.
Open Data. For any test, monitored data will be consolidated and storage in a open data platform, giving access to all and as such to reinforce open science and innovation.
Open Access. At OITB context, also applicable for O3BET. Any interested user can access to the facilities, capacities and services of the test benches, independently if it is partner of the consortium or not. Metabuilding Labs platform members will have more favourable conditions. Will be sought the way to facilitate SMEs participation considering its size and capacity to find their most suitable test facilities.
With the development of this type of collaboration a component to the traditional innovation focus is added, boosting a nearest participation to the productive and product and technology development phase and favouring the value creation. Obviously, current difficulties for new business growth (particularly in construction) will not be solved by this type of initiative alone, but they can help to consolidate its progressive and necessary transformation.
“Innovation is a risky activity whose main risk is not practising it”
Cultural and Natural Heritage (CNH) are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, according to the UNESCO definition. Europe´s rural areas represent outstanding examples of cultural, either tangible or intangible, and antural heritage that need, not only to be safeguarded, but also promoted as an engine for competitiveness, growth and sustainable and inclusive deveopment1. According to the PAHIS 2020 Plan2 , there has been a deepening of the so-called Cultural Heritage Economy in recent years, in accordance with current criteria which establish that cultural heritage assets should no longer be perceived as a burden but as a resource capable of generating development and social cohesion. This post gives a brief summary into the study of computer technologies applied to modelling and monitoring how the CNH can support the sustainable development of rural areas.
The EU communication “A Long-Term Vision for the EU´s Rural Areas”3 mentions the EU Rural Observatory, whose main objective is to further improve data collection and analysis on rural areas, but first results are expected by the end of 2022. This observatory is intended to increase the quantity and quality of available data as this is essential to understand the rural conditions to act on them properly.
Rural areas are facing challenges such as ageing and depopulation. Heritage based regeneration plans can contribute to the sustainable development of these rural areas. This is a complex task, however, where a trade-off among the different regeneration plans and the limited available resources should be found and where computational methods can be useful to predict the best strategy.
One common approach when facing situations like this is through the analysis of some selected best practices or success stories (aka Role Models), and how innovation activities and cross-cutting themes successfully interacted in these Role Models. Then, these lessons learnt are adapted and replicated in other rural areas )aka replicators) for supporting the creation and implementation of heritage-led regeneration strategies.
In order to get quantifiable evidences, compara and appraise the effectiveness, impact and validity of the heritage-led regeneration actions, it is necessary to establish a robust monitoring systems based on a set of selected corss-thematic and multiscale Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and evaluation procedures that ensure the production of a solid and reliable impact assessment of the strategies. Parameters obtained from role models and replicators baseline have been used to define an initial set of KPIs, which has been used for the first appraisal of the replicators baseline.
The methodology developed here allows to analysing an initial set of indicators as large as needed and, via several objective criteria, reduce the set of KPIs to a number that can be easily handled. But probably, the resulting set of KPIs will be diverse and not so easy to combine or compare, so group decision making techniques are useful to reach a trade-off among the experts´ opinions about how to combine the data from the indicators and get meaningful KPIs.
The impact of the strategies is assessed through KPIs in terms of Cultural and Natural Heritage according to the Communities Capital Framework (CCF). The KPIs intially considered for each replicator are re-tailored and further analysed by means of System Dynamics (SD), a suitable modelling technique for dealing with the nonlinear behaviour of complex systems over time suing sotcks, flows, internal feedback loops and time delays.
The RURITAGE project has identified 6 Systemic Innovation Areas (pilgrimage; sustainable local food production; migration; art & festivals; resilience; and integrated landscape management) which, integrated with cross-cutting themes, show case heritage potential as an engine for economic, social and environmental development of rural areas. CARTIF is in charge of developing the monitoring platfomr for assessing the impact of the action plans to regenerate the rural areas. Several dashboards have been designed focusing on KPIs values and their evolution4. RURITAGE has developed and set up a monitoring scheme to assess the performance pf the deployed regeneration action plans in six replicators. Performance monitoring is still ongoing and will last 2.5 years within project life.
1 RURITAGE, Rural regeneration through systemic heritage-led strategies, 2018. (https://www.ruritage.eu) Horizon 2020, Grant agreement No 776465.
2 Consejería de Cultura y Turismo, Plan PAHIS 2020 del Patrimonio Cultural de Castilla y León, Junta de Castilla y León. Consejería de Cultura y Turismo, 2015.
Although sometimes we forget it, forests provides huge benefits to the planet in general and to the human being in particular. They help us to mitigate climate change effects acting as carbon sinks and eliminating huge quantities of carbon dioxide of the atmosphere. The forests nourish the ground and serve as a natural barrier against ground erosion, ground movements, floods, avalanches and strong winds. Forests host more than three quarters of global terrestrialbiodiversity, and represents a source of food, medicines and fuel for more than one thousand million people.
But forests are seriously threatened by deforestation, climate change and fires. The advance of the agricultural frontier and the unsustainable logging causes 13 million hectares of forest to be lost every year. Climate change is allowing that plants and invasive insects species have advantages over the native species increasing their negative effects. It also exists a direct relationship between fires, deforestation and pandemics: the destruction of forests, specially the tropical ones such as the Amazonia, Indonesia or the Congo, makes possible that human beings get in touch with wildlife populations carriers of pathogens.
With regard to forest fires it has been noted that fires are becoming less frequent, but more destructive. Some of them, the most terrible, are the called “sixth generation fires“, and are ravaging the forests of the planet. This type of fires can´ t be fight and also they have the capacity to modificate the metheorology of the place where the fire is located. Against this type of fires it only works a defensive strategy, trying to direct it to non-populated areas and hope that the rain will help to control it. Not even areas that have hardly had any fires are not spared from this tragedy: 5.5 millions of hectares have burned in the Artic Circle in recent years. The Artic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and, as a result, high intensity fires are starting.
It is clear that is fundamental to prevent fires and for that reason it is necessary to consider strategies that allows reducing forests vulnerability. Having a look at our nearer context, the European Unionforest strategy promotes the forest sustainable and respectful management with climate and biodiversity, intensifying the surveillance of forests and giving a more specific support to silvicultures. Becomes evident that is needed a better forestry management with emphasis in the protection and sustainable regeneration. However, we have a steady decline in forest mass as the “reforestation” process cannot compete with the deforestation rate in Europe. Furthermore, in Europe, data shows a large increase in forestry exploitation in recent years, which reducing the continent´ s CO2 absorption capacity and possibly indicating wider problems with the EU´ s attempts to fight agains climate crisis. Another paradox regarding forests within the EU is that a large part of them are privately owned by timber companies. As a result, the regular logging of these forests, coupled with the private nature of their ownership, makes public awareness and greenning even more difficult to achieve. Biomass loss from 2016 to 2018, in compared to the period from 2011-2015, has increased by 69%, according to the satellite data.
Spain, as it occurs to all the countries of the mediterranean area, is specially vulnerable to fires, given the scenario of drought and desertification, accelerated by the climate change. In Spain we have a large experience putting out forest fires: we collaborate in a international level and we achieve the extinction of 65% of fires in their outbreak phase (less than 1 hectare), although this sometimes produces the effect called “the extinction paradox” (which means that we lose the opportunity for small fires to clear undergrowth and thus encourage large and dangerous accumulations of fuel. In Spain 1,000 million euros per year are destiny to fire extinction, however, only 300 millions euros to their prevention.
The extinction is necessary and positive but isn´ t enough, it is necessary to invest in other measures (prevention, detection and recovering) that allows facing forest fires from a more wide and complete perspective. In this sense is very important to take advantage of new tools that offers recent technologies and scientific advances.
For example, the use of images obtained with drones and satellites and sensor grids joint with artificial intelligence techniques allows to detect fires faster and more accurately and is already underway several research projects in various countries: Bulgary, Greece, Portugal, Lebanon, Korea and much others. Even there are challenges planned for the European Spacial Agency for using satellite images and artificial intelligence in the detection of fires and other similar challenges of the NASA, H20.ai and Cellnex. Another interesting initiative is ALERTWildfire, a consortium of several northamerican universities that provides cameras and tools against fires to discover, locate and monitor forest fires. There are also commercial systems to detect forest fires, such as this one of Chile, that use Artificial Intelligence and several types of sensors or this one of Portugal.
Already in Spain, the Ecology Transition and Agriculture ministries have developed Arbaria project able to “predict” with a considerable hit rate where fires will break out.
Looking for a global approach in the prevention and management of fires the european project DRYADS have been launched, in which participates CARTIF. This project has as an objective the development of a fire management holistic platform based in the optimization and reuse of last generation socio-technologic resources. These techniques will be applied in the three main phases of forest fires:
In the prevention phase, DRYADS proposes the use of a real-time risk assessment tool that can receive multiple ranking inputs and work with a new risk factor indicator driven by a neuronal network. To create a community model adapted to fire, in parallel to the previous activity, DRYADS will use construction materials activated by alcali that integrates post-fires wood ashes for buildings and infrastructures resistant to fire. DRYADS will also use a variety of technological solutions, such as the Copernicus european satellite infrastructure and swarms of drone for a precise forest supervision.
In the detection phase, DRYADS proposes several technology tools that can be adapted to much of the needs of the project: use of virtual reality for the training, portable devices for the emergency services protection team, vehicles without driver -UAV (drones), UAG and aircrafts- to improve the capacity of temporary and spacial analysis, as well as to increase the coverage of the inspected area.
Finally, DRYADS will construct a new forestry restoration initiative based in modern techniques, such as agrosilviculture, drones for spreading seeds, IoT sensors that can adapt the seeding process in function of the ground needs and at the same time with the help of the AI to determine the risk factors after the fire.
The results of DRYADS project will be demonstrated and validated in real conditions in several forestry spaces of Spain, Norway, Italy, Rumany, Austria, Germany, Greece and Taiwan.
To sum up and as a conclusion, to fight against the forestry fires we have not only to focus in their extinction but also in a good sustainable management of the forest based in the prevention and introduction of modern techniques is essential to reinforce their resilience, the utilisation of the resources and their recovery capacity. This will lead to new opportunities for the rural environment, the biodiversity conservation and the fight against climate change. Let us hope that for once a time trees let us see the forest and we could avoid their destruction.