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Arts and culture 05 Jul 2016

San Fermín, a tech-fiesta too

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That technology can reach almost anywhere is a half-truth. A festival where people dress in white, wearing red bandanas tied around their necks, holding rolled-up newspapers in their hands, doesn’t sound quite like the ideal breeding ground for technology innovation. But, however, technology has made its way deep into the heart of celebration, far deeper than what one could guess at first glance. Now that the txupinazo, the inaugural rocket launch, is just a few hours away, maybe it is the right time to take a look at the techies side of Pamplona and the Sanfermines, the running of the bulls.

Loosely paraphrasing Hemingway, Pamplona is a party. A party 9-day long party that starts with the chupinazo on July 6th, and concludes with the crowd singing the traditional Pobre de mí (Poor me!), on July 14th. Technology and a bit of planning ahead can become your best allies to enjoy the most popular festival in Navarra.

Accommodation

The first thing is to look for a place to sleep. If you started looking for your hotel room far too late, you’re travelling with a large group, or want to try something different, Airbnb and Lacomunity will help you find the best places to stay during these days. These startups let you filter your accommodation searches by location, price and number of guests.

The US company uses a strategy based on design thinking and currently operates in 192 countries. In 2015 it managed bookings for over 40 million people.

LaComunity is a Spanish startup whose website allows prospective guests and owners to formalize the corresponding rental agreements online. Its website lists over 75,000 accommodation choices across the world, some of which can be booked online. In other cases, the advertiser needs to confirm the booking. Another one of its strengths is that the rental total is not transferred until 24 hours after the check in, a feature that reassures both the guests and owners that choose its services.

Applications that will keep you from getting lost and wasting time

Ok, so we’re finally in Pamplona. But the Sanfermines change every year. Taking this into consideration, the best thing you can do is download one of these applications.

San Fermín 2016 Pamplona. The city council’s official application. Local startup GeoActio launched the app in 2011 and has been supporting it ever since. The app offers details about the official program, points of interest, a live stream of the running of the bulls, the weather forecast for Pamplona and the scheduled concerts, the traditional Giants and Bigheaded parade, links to social networks and contests. You can download it here: Android or iOS

SAN FERMÍN festival program. This app offers the 2016 program, a map of the city and a listing of points of interest, including parking garages, train and bus stations, lost &found, tourism office and relevant telephone numbers. But it goes even further: to keep you from wasting time, it provides the location of parking garages and the number of free spaces in each one of them. Available for Android users

Angry Bull 2016. With highly realistic graphs, Angry Bull puts you behind the bull’s horns. Trample your way along Estafeta street, chasing runners away and destroying anything that comes your way. The best, without a doubt, are its 3D graphics. Available in Android and iOS

Angry bull. Whether if you are in Pamplona or if you couldn’t make it this year, this simulator lets you choose between running or being the bull. Save yourself or destroy anything that stands in your way. This app is only available for Android.

San Fermín apps

The Ns in eNtrepreNeurship stand for Navarra

A place so singular, home to one of the world’s most famous festivals, also had to be a place of reference for entrepreneurs. Three examples worth noting, two young companies and a third one that’s already a classic: Geoactio, Idacustica and Kukuxumusu.

Geoactio, a startup with its epicenter in Noáin, near the Pamplona airport, that specializes in creating innovative solutions combining cloud intelligence, mobile apps and electronic devices for wireless interaction. Its success stories include tailored solutions and specific products for a number of industries. Some of its success stories:

· BlueActio: Cloud-based access control and mobile opening solutions for all types of garages: single-family homes, apartment complexes, office complexes, corporate buildings…
· ActioHeatlh: a system that helps keep track of people suffering from impaired sense of direction (such as people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease) in nursing homes. Patients are provided with bluetooth-enabled bracelets that activate an alarm when they enter a restricted area. The warning is monitored from a central control desk and through apps.
· GeoCop: a smart law enforcement management platform, consisting of an app that agents carry with them, a coordination center from which incidences are assigned, and a cloud-based management system for the all-round planning of any incidence.

One cannot talk about the Sanfermines and entrepreneurship without mentioning Kukuxumusu. Although company was born 27-years ago, its capacity to innovate and grow in the digital world have driven helped it evolve into the great brand it is today. Kukuxumusu has always been deeply related to the fiesta through its t-shirt collection, but also through Sanfermin.com. The website, born as the official site of the festival in 1998, will be celebrating its coming of age this year with a 100% responsive design that aims to underpin its position as the most popular guide to San Fermín at a global level, both in terms of traffic and contents. Its list of achievements includes the launch of the first online TV-channel exclusively devoted to the festival in 2007, which is now hosted in YouTube, the development of an educational app in collaboration with the Pamplona City Hall (2011) that teaches how to run the bulls and the first online radio to enjoy the music of the festival: ferminmusic.com.

Other key milestones in its history:
· In 2009 it developed the first online balcony rental platform for the “encierro (bull runs)”. It is currently one of the website’s star products. Together with Destino Navarra, which is responsible for the more offline part, they create the technology that allows booking a balcony and watch the running of the bulls without taking any risks.
· In 2006 they created the ‘encierrómetro (bullrunmeter)’ with the Public University of Navarra. The flash app allowed users to calculate the chances of being trampled by the bull.
· In 2014-2016, they developed the predictive system they use to plan their coverage, which gauges the chances of different events taking place during the bull run, based on the algorithm created by the University of Navarra. The forecasts are elaborated based on the Big Data available about the encierros (objective stats since 1980). If, for example, in accordance with the analysis, ‘Jandilla’ bulls are responsible for the highest number of injuries on Tuesday bull runs, and if most injuries that occur on Tuesdays take place in Mercaderes street… the coverage in these sections is increased with additional cameras.

Our last example of entrepreneurship is a start-up that has been making some noise for the past six years, although maybe it is better to say that they’ve been trying to take it down a notch. Idacustica is the brainchild of a group of engineers that aim to offer solutions for companies looking for ways to tackle their industrial noise problems. It offers a range of noise assessment services with an endless range of implementations, such as gauging insulation in commercial premises to obtain the opening license, or helping large cities fight one of the most pressing problems of the century: noise pollution. Maybe it is because they engage in such an unusual activity that they are always ready to innovate and take on new challenges.

If you are a company that makes a living from noise and you are from Pamplona, the San Fermín festival is the perfect testing ground that will make you feel at home. Before discussing some of the levels that idacustica has measured during the sanfermines, we should keep in mind that the noise level of a normal conversation is 65 decibels, and our ears’ pain threshold is about 140 db. So, the noise level at the moment the pyrotechnic Chupinazo is set off can go all the way up to 115.3 db, just about the sound an airplane makes as it takes off. During the Riau-Riau, the readings topped at 108.4 db. During one of the most popular highlights among children, the bull of fire, noise levels reached 105.4 db while during the Giants and Bigheads parade they hit 101.9 db.

On the leisure and entertainment front, the company’s proposal for soccer clubs is to turn noise into a source of entertainment for fans. In the El Sadar stadium, readings have gone as high as 115.1 db. But this level can be exceeded by challenging the fans, and, thanks to applications connected with the social networks, it would be possible to launch automatic tweets to spread the word on the noise of the festival.

Finally, the Pamplona City Council has rolled out a service aimed at making sure that the fiestas end happily for everyone. Because, when so many gather around in the same place, respecting people around you becomes a crucial issue. Through its social networks, the city council will post pictures of some of the city’s best known personalities, and, similar to a traffic light, green and red circles to indicate what’s allowed and what’s not. The warnings will be distributed across the city, and will include a QR code that will link to the campaign’s guide and to a platform that allows to report inappropriate conducts.

So, all you have to worry about now is about having fun and enjoying the most techy San Fermín you can.

7 things you didn’t know about the celebration

· Saint Francis Xavier was the patron saint of Navarre until 1657, when Pope Alexander VII declared Saint Fermin co-patron saint of the city
· The people of Pamplona asked to have the festival’s original celebration date – October 10th – changed, because of the poor weather typical of that month of the year. The festival was moved to July, during the livestock fair
· The first inaugural rocket, the chupinazo, was set off in 1931. During Spain’s civil war, no chupinazos were fired. In 1939, the chupinazo custom was resumed and in 1941 it was institutionalized just as we know it today. June 6th, at 12 pm.
· You should keep your red bandana tucked in your pocket until the rocket is launched. After that, you can wear it as you please, but the custom is to tie it around your neck.
· Nobel prize laureate Ernest Hemingway was an enthusiast of the sanfermines. He attended the festival on 9 occasions. The sanfermines play a prominent role in one of his most revered books, “The Sun Also Rises” (1926), whose characters travel to Pamplona to attend the festival. Pamplona pays tribute to the writer with a street to his name, 2 monuments and a city tour.
· The first bull run, which used to be called the entrada (entry) of the bulls, on the Estafeta street was run in 1856. At that time, running in front of the bulls had been expressly forbidden by City Council orders. In 1867, the Council gave in and established the first set of rules for the race.
· According to statistics, 2 of every 3 people that take part in each bull run are first-time runners and 56% being foreigners. Also overcrowding does not mean increased danger. In 2014, during a bull run of Miura bulls the number of incidents among the 1,414 runners was higher (3 gored and 4 injured) than among the almost 3,000 runners that took on to the streets during the June 13th bull run (no people gored, and the same number of injuries).

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