Good practices from stakeholders

During EPR's 2020 Annual conference, experts and stakeholders were invited to present good practices, results of researches and experiences related to the digital and technological change. 

Nick Rosa (Global Head of Immersive Learning at Accenture) made a presentation on the importance of immersive learning for upskilling people, for learning, training and education. According to the Edgar Dale code of learning, a pyramid can be drawn showing a cone of experience: the percentage of learning and memory retention that any user has just from reading is extremely low. The ways of e-learning and video content improve this kind of retention. With immersive learning and virtual reality, the learning experience increases: create a real experience with the same kind of emotional engagement as in a real-life scenario. This technology enables to create digital reality and training possibilities that can be reset whenever the user wants. By using muscle memory and using VR equipment, complex and dangerous processes can be practised. With immersive learning, we can develop collaborative skills and soft skills: creating the illusion of being with other humans or creating multi-user experiences in the same digital virtual room (digital classroom). Besides, virtual devices are not expensive anymore, with a virtual headset costing around $300.

Some examples of what Accenture delivered already with Virtual Reality:

  • A simulation with muscle memory for a shipping company to arrive in different harbours.
  • Application to train social workers in interviews with parents, suspected of not treating their children in a good way; an extremely delicate process. In this application, the same kind of emotional impact was re-created as if interviews were held in these families' environment.
  • Internal application to train the employees of Accenture to learn compliance and everything related to the company's rules.
  • In a program built for Save the Children, an immersive application was created that helped children around the world to understand what's their vocational job, understand what are the requirements of the market they are living in, and improve the skill needed to develop and secure their livelihoods in the country that they are living in. The application works with mobile phones and doesn't require a VR headset.
  • For a call centre, an application was built to train people in the approach with dissatisfied customers. They are recording the user's experience, and then they replay the experience, putting the user in the shoe of the customer that is calling the call centre.
  • Application for onboarding, training recruits how to do public speaking and how to do client interviews in Accenture. The next step is the actual step of augmented reality, for example, in iPhones coming out this year with the possibility to create a 3D map of the world. You can deliver a huge amount of visual information using digital content imposed on top of your field of vision.

Robert Schaffner (Director and Founder at Triangility), presenting Scouting emerging technologies learning from the best futurists. He spoke about the impossibility of keeping track of the latest technology developments, reinforcing the idea that technology is developing nowadays at a fast pace and that technology trends are impacting/changing society. “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.”, he emphasized. He then introduced the idea of what he referred to as “Tech scouts – dreaming the future” and drew attention to how we acquire knowledge through three options: 1) by copying 2) by reflection 3) by experiencing. He then brought attention to science fiction literature. He mentioned Jules Verne's book "Paris in the 20th Century". He gave examples of elements mentioned in the book that did not exist such as skyscrapers, elevators, mass transport systems, communication systems, and weapons of mass destruction. As another example of science fiction literature imaging a future world, he referred to William Ford Gibson, and his book “Neuromancer". He cited further examples of a vision of the future in Michio Kaku and Elon Musk's work, this latter as a visionary involved in AI projects and spacecraft. In addition, he gave examples of what he referred to as emerging technologies such as Lilium jet company (, AI/ML, Autonomous cars, Virtual and Augmented reality, Robotics, 4 D printers, Tactile internet. 2 . He concluded his intervention by quoting himself as follows: “Believing in the beauty of our dreams is the cornerstone of our futures” (Robert Schaffner, 2020). 

Link to the presentation:

Digital Change in Health and Social Care – Experience from the UK. David Maguire (Senior Analyst at The King’s Fund) presented elements based on what he referred to as "the English experience" in dealing with the introduction of digital change implementation in the UK's public health care system, particularly the NHS. For instance, he mentioned that electronic patients' record was not often deployed, but that after the Pandemic, there was a new system in that regards being deployed. Other changes implemented throughout the Pandemic he referred to had to do with doctors being able to assist patients remotely, empowering change for clinicians (and patients), new ways to allow people to work from home give them flexibility, the use of e-copies /e-forms rather than paper. David also mentioned key points such as digital change happening now rapidly, the digital change in the context of health and social care provisions and how this is related to people's expectations and whether these expectations are met. He pointed out the opportunities for new partnerships and support and mentioned the integrated health care systems comprising health organizations, hospitals, primary care centres, etc. He emphasized the idea of the powerful role the volunteer sector plays in this context.

Link to the presentation:

David Banes (Director of David Banes Access and Inclusion Services) presenting trends in the delivery of Assistive technology (AT) services and products. He discussed understanding that the ecosystem supporting AT (policy, research, training, assessment) is ever-changing and trends in each area impact AT. He paid particular attention to the topics of: 

1. The shifts in technology innovation. 

2. The increasing number of People With Disabilities and economics in their influence on AT services. He brought attention to those essential technologies (drones, robots, virtual reality, blockchain) which was changing AT services and gave us some examples of how AI can predict communication to support someone with communication difficulties. He drew attention to a resource entitled GSMA, which helps teach people digital skills. 

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Frederic Payet (Interregional Director at EPNAK) shared their experience in organizing a hackathon in France (Bretagne) - Develop digital tools for PWD employment focused on digital solutions for medical organisations to develop digital tools for occupational integration. The Hackathon experience took place on the 27 and 28 September in 2019, in Rennes. The aim was to develop digital tools for PWD employment, and it involved 14 participants. That hackathons involve motivation, creativity, and innovation. Frederic shared that EPNAK made a national call for volunteers to participate in this hackathon initiative and that INSA (French School of engineer) participated. He mentioned some key figures related to this particular hackathon that involved 24 hours nonstop/ 30 students, six teams, eight mentors, 80 EPNAK employees, 30 experts, a jury of 10 members, three prizes: "The Best Project", "the Pitch" and "the Best Atmosphere" (the hackathon budget at a total of 25.500 EUR). The winner idea of the hackathon organized by EPNAK was given to an initiative called ”FLOWER”, a mobile app that allows the personalized follow-up of the professional integration path, as he explained.

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VDAB[1] is the Flemish part of Belgium's public employment service, working as business project leader for all artificial intelligence projects. They consciously choose to put the online services as the first contact in their services. Simon Uyterhoeven (Business Project Leader at VDAB Belgium) presented three cases from the VDAB and lessons learned:

1. The first case explained showed proactive profiling. Every job seeker is unique and has a different need for support. A model was built, which predicts finding a job within six months, based on eight different drivers. With this model's output, a ranking is made for their contact centre which new job seekers to contact first to offer them support.

2. The second case is a matching engine based on job data labels and the job seeker's profile data, also, based on the clicks on the vacancy website.

3. The third case is the launch of two AI tools. Based on the previous jobs, a competency profile is built automatically to show which jobs they can apply, indicating potential competency development and showing training to be followed. The second tool gives the job seeker an orientation in which jobs are a good fit for their interests, based upon a questionnaire filled on the website.

VDAB has three ethical principles in building these programs: Trust, transparency and benefit.

  • Trust that citizens have to feel good in a society that uses Al responsibly.
  • Transparency means clear and transparent decision making of the tools, and always explaining the decisions of the used Al products and services.
  • The benefit means that the output needs to be socially advantaged.

Artificial Intelligence is teamwork, with the collaboration of different departments and including the citizen (co-creation via pilots). It’s important to set the goal of the project and take into account the privacy and ethical aspects. The models try to filter out the bias because most of the time, historical data is used. This can be a time-consuming process.

Link to the presentation: