Technology to the service of the family: Ca’ Foscari project

The balance between personal and professional life is hard to find especially for workers who must take care of children or elderly. Managing and organizing everyday life becomes a struggle especially for those with young children in increasingly unstable and precarious work conditions and decreasing resources invested in public welfare.

A possible route is found in ‘alternative economies’, by sharing and exchanging time and skills in the nearby communities enabled by technologies and social communication tools.

The project Families_Shares was just approved and financed within the H2020-ICT-CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms) programmes with six projects out of more than 100 applications.

It will deal with co-projecting an Open Source online platform that helps families in seven European cities (Venice, Bologna, Trento, Thessaloniki, Budapest, Hamburg, Kortrijk) by sharing childcare to better face the issues linked to combine personal and professional life through participating co-design labs and testing the conceived technological tools.

Families_Share aims at involving workers who are most exposed to prolonged economic stagnation and to the increasing cost of care services, in order to promote the integration of migrant families in the social fabric.

The gender dimension is crucial in the project as, if the balance between personal and professional life is key to support women’s occupation, the participation path that will be created will be useful to actively involve fathers and promote thinking and changing stereotypes which identify childcare as an exclusively maternal competence. Families_Share represents an innovative approach in its methods of intervention to promote gender equality.

Coordinated by the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics at Ca’ Foscari with the support of the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Families_Share belongs to an interdisciplinary research involving the design of an online platform strongly influenced by the relational and social dynamics that will occur on the ground between the participants; the experience will be organized as a ‘sociotechnical system’ and will stimulate social change towards de-commodification of reproductive and care work and redistribution of it between men and women beyond the boundaries of the family’s context.

The project will have 34 months to develop the digital-social innovation potential to test an ‘alternative economy’ model applied to care work and how it is shared, promoting social sustainability and a city model and intelligent and inclusive community thanks to the participation of citizens.

The consortium guided by Ca’ Foscari includes such research institutes such as the Foundation Bruno Kessler and the IMEC (InterUniversity Micro Electronic Research Centre), small companies active in the promotion of social and technological innovation (ViLabs, Smart Venice), NGOs lead by and for women (Ergani) and parents’ associations that started working in a mutual support perspective through technologies (De Stuyverij).