SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.

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WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE END OF THE IN-EDU HACKATHON FOR MEDIA AND INFORMATION LITERACY HELD IN BULGARIA?

Unlike many other competitions, the IN-EDU hackathon did not finish immediately after the best teams received their prizes, on the contrary – the participants were encouraged to realize their creative ideas by using the fund, provided by IN-EDU. The aim was to promote the topic of media and information literacy widely and to do it through the students, in their language, because they know best how to attract like-minded classmates and how to present this topic to their parents. The stimulus for the teams was not only the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, but also to win the additional awards.

The results speak for themselves – for only 4 months the 6 awarded teams managed to engage more than 500 000 students and parents through their campaigns. They have used their creativity to produce content varying from simple educational posters and posts through interviews with public figures in the form of podcasts to guidebook for media and information literacy. All these materials were created after throughout research and were widely spread both online and offline. Thus they managed to help their audience to orientate better in the digital world.

The teams presented the results of their campaigns during an online event, which was held on 28th of May and streamed for the general public. The public had to make the hard decision who deserves most to receive the two additional awards – 1500 BGN and working visit to the Bulgarian National Television. The teams MEDIAcated and Messengers were selected as the best of the best. The visit in “the kitchen” of the Bulgarian National Television was a special prize provided and organized by Sofia Development Association and it seemed to be highly appreciate by the teams. They got involved in the whole process of getting ready for being on air, met journalists, gave interviews, fell in love in the atmosphere and even considered to follow the lead of the their mentors of the day.

The decision for the rest of the financial prize in the amount of BGN 3,500 was taken by Sofia Development Association and DZZD Obuchenie having into consideration the full reports of the activities of the teams. The awarded teams were MEDIAcated, Messengers and Our voice – now they have the chance to develop their campaigns even further and make a positive change in the online behavior of their audience. Congratulations and good luck!

The hackathon is organized by Sofia Development Association and DZZD Obuchenie in the framework of INclusion Communities through Media Inclusion and Critical Thinking EDUcation (IN-EDU) project, co-financed by the EU Erasmus + Programme.

    

    

INNOAIRCHALLENGE: MAKING URBAN MOBILITY SMARTER – INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FROM CITIZENS FOR CITIZENS

The hackathon InnoAirChallenge: Making urban mobility smarter, organized by Sofia Development Association and A1 Bulgaria, was held online in the period 2-4 June, and gathered 24 teams from 7 cities in a race for a cause. All participants worked online on the difficult task of developing and presenting projects that outline the vision of a future generation of transport services and connectivity that work for cleaner air in Sofia.

After the official opening of the hackathon on 2 June by Sevdalina Voynova, project coordinator of INNOAIR, and Kristian Krastev, Deputy Mayor for Transport in Sofia, the participants had about 36 hours to grow their ideas. The development of the ideas was digital, and the teams had the opportunity to consult with mentors from business, academia and Sofia Municipality who work on similar issues. Among the main questions that the teams’ ideas had to answer were ways to make the public transport in Sofia more environmentally sustainable and attractive for citizens.

The Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova congratulated all participants for their hard work. "I thank all 68 participants from the bottom of my heart for participating in this very important project through the competition. Change is possible if we all participate in it together – if we argue, seek and find solutions, and support each other. The modern urban transport is important for air quality and the environment. In recent years we have been doing large-scale modernization, introducing electronic systems, video surveillance, etc. and I am glad that so many inspired, young people are developing green solutions in our city and giving ideas on how to make the public transport even more attractive to all citizens."

The prize fund of BGN 21 000 gave an opportunity to further develop the most creative ideas in the hackathon. The winning teams, determined by a competent jury, have the opportunity to help turn Sofia into a greener and smarter city by investing their prizes in the realization of their ideas.

The projects were evaluated based on criteria for originality, applicability and technological approach in real time. The decision for the best ideas was made after a lively and intense discussions. The “Sofenhagen“ team won first place and BGN 10 000, with its project for an application that offers cycling routes and allows cyclists to give feedback on the routes. They managed to convince the jury that "their next automobile will be a bicycle".

"Participating in the Hackathon was very useful for us for several reasons. Perhaps the most important of these was the validation of our idea and its ability to solve a problem in the real world. The hackathon was also a good test for our organizational skills, because in order to present the project in such a short period of time we had to be very disciplined. We will use the award to build a fully functional application that provides users with the most convenient way to find safe cycling routes in Sofia," shared the “Sogenhagen“ team.

“Poslednite“ took the second place and received a BGN 5 000 check for their idea for an integrated system of sensors for measuring air quality, noise pollution and other indicators. “Innovaone” team from Harmanli came in third, winning BGN 3 000 for their project for a device with a solar panel and sensors that measure fine dust particles and water quality.

The prizes for the first three teams were provided by A1 Bulgaria. In addition, Mastercard provided a special prize of BGN 3 000 for the “Asembria” team, which presented a mobile application that makes it easier for blind citizens to use public transport.

Sofia Development Association provided a special prize of BGN 1 000 for the “KiNation” team from Burgas, which presented a project for an external device for bus stops that purifies the air and monitors pollutants.

A special award was also given by Sofia Urban Mobility Center, who awarded the “ITG“ team, which developed a system for counting passengers through cameras installed inside the vehicles. The four participants received free semester passes for the entire city network of public transport.

The competitive ideas varied and ranged from replacement of the controllers’ devices with a mobile phone, through a shared parking system in private parking lots, to a hub project - solar transport stop, which integrates classic and public transport and information, as well as terminals for food deliveries, bill payments and fitness equipment.

The hackathon InnoAirChallenge: Making urban mobility smarter was the first of a number of hackathons and competitions that Sofia Development Association will organize within the INNOAIR project. The competition gathered many meaningful ideas that are to be realized. You can see their public presentation in the recordings of the live broadcast on the Facebook page of INNOAIR.

INNOAIR project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.

    

SHARING GOOD PRACTICES OF THE UMN PROJECT WITH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR MIGRANT INTEGRATION

As part of the ongoing awareness and advocacy campaign of the UMN project, SDA took part in an international forum, organized by the consortium of the project Educate Yourself: Social inclusion through self-education and learning for migrants (https://platform.integritybg.com), funded by the Erasmus+ program. SDA presented the methodology and key messages of the UMN awareness-raising campaign, which aims to mobilize local employers, social partners, and NGOs to support the integration of third-country nationals (TCNs) in the local labor market through activities for increasing their knowledge, facilitating the recognition of their skills, connecting them to local employers. The Bulgarian members of the consortium of Educate Yourself will be invited to join the coalition of local stakeholders, established by SDA within the UMN project to support TCNs to find employment in the labor market in Sofia.

  

SDA JOINS A CONSORTIUM FOR BUILDING COMPETENCE CENTRES FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION

Starting in May, 2021, SDA will be a part of an international consortium with organizations from Austria, Hungary and Slovakia, implementing the project Social Innovation Plus - Competence Centres (SI PLUS). The project, led by Lechner, Reiter & Riesenfelder Social Research OG, aims at advancing the development of social innovation (SI) by mapping and supporting existing initiatives and establishing new approaches. The project will support relevant ESF and ESF+ stakeholders through offering information, knowledge and know-how, through providing advice, guidance and training, and through organizing networking and mutual learning formats at national and European levels. The planned project is going to establish SI competence centres in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia in order to support ESF Managing Authorities in planning and implementing subsidy programs for boosting SI, as well as social innovators in order to benefit from these programs. The project’s duration is 24 months.

The project is funded by the EUROPEAN COMMISSION, European Social Fund and European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation.

 

SOFIA MUNICIPALITY PRESENTS ITS EXPERIENCE IN THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament's Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age organized a workshop on May 28, 2021, on Artificial Intelligence and Public Administration. The event aimed to discuss the use of artificial intelligence and algorithms in EU public services and to help MEPs promote digital solutions for public administration and find the right regulatory balance between them.

Sofia Municipality was among the four European administrations invited to the hearing - representatives of the governments of Finland and Denmark and the National Research Institute in Poland - to share the context, specific parameters, what has been learned so far and the challenges of using artificial intelligence.

Ivan Nikolov, Director of the Transport Directorate of Sofia Municipality, and Sevdalina Voynova, Program Director at Sofia Development Association, presented the use of artificial intelligence in the introduction of the innovative electric urban transport service on demand. This service is being developed within the INNOAIR project; the first Bulgarian project funded by the EU initiative Urban Innovative Actions. With the help of big data and artificial intelligence, traditional bus routes and timetables in some urban areas will be replaced by a proactive service, with electric minibuses running on flexible routes and timetables according to the demand for the service. Speakers also shared some lessons learned so far - the need to radically improve data management, capacity building within the administration to work with artificial intelligence, the need to analyze social and economic effects, etc.

MEPs and their teams showed significant interest in what Sofia had to share and further discussed how we overcome resistance to change, what incentives we use to attract universities, and how we see the development of regulations. Possible incentives and a structured exchange of experience at European level were discussed.

You can see more about the workshop on the EP Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age website: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/aida-workshop-on-ai-and-public-administr/product-details/20210520CAN60988

         

    

REDISCOVER THE CITY WITH CLEAN URBAN MOBILITY

On the occasion of EU Green Week and on the initiative of the municipal councilor Simeon Kolev, Sofia Municipality and Urban Mobility Centre with the assistance of the Architecture and Urban Planning Department, are organizing an event dedicated to clean mobility.

On the last days of May - 29 and 30.05.2021, the day before the official start of the European Green Week, the organizers are drawing attention to the topic of sustainable mobility and are giving rise to other initiatives.

In the section closed for cars in front of the Court House leading companies that provide funds and services for environmentally friendly movement in the city and innovative projects of Sofia, for a new generation of mobility such as INNOAIR, will be presented.

Both days, from 10 am to 5 pm, all residents and guests of Sofia will be able to view and test the first service for shared electric mopeds in Sofia “Share-A-Scoot”, electric scooters NIU, electric scooters “E- point”, Xiaomi electric scooters from Technopolis. “E-velo” electric bicycles and “E-mountain Bike” mountain bikes have a new feel to the wheels.

Volkswagen electric cars and the “Spark” electric mobility sharing service will also be available. The largest network of charging stations for electric vehicles „Eldrive“ will also be presented, as well as the new generation bicycle stands of “Streebl”. A partner of the event will also be Shell, in whose tent the cars of the future with zero emissions will be presented, designed by students for participation in the international competition “Shell Eco-marathon”. Spaghetti Kitchen will take care of the mood of the visitors.

The interest in clean mobility in the city is growing and Sofia is also waking up for spring and is striving to become a cleaner and more sustainable city.

Come and join. Get involved. Let us all choose a cleaner and healthier way to move and breathe cleaner air.

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