COVID-19 has changed the way that we use public transport. Operators must apply new protocols to gain the public’s trust and ensure the safety of users in enclosed spaces such as carriages, metro stations, buses and others.
On 15 July, the Conference on Mobility and COVID-19: Science Counterattacks! was held. This was an initiative of the European Railway Clusters Initiative (ERCI), organised jointly by the CIT UPC, the Clúster Railgrup, HEALTHIO, the EUROSURFAS International Congress and the international fairs EXPOQUIMIA, EQUIPLAST and INDUSTRY at the Fira de Barcelona. The event was a continuation of the meetings of the same name held on 25 May and 16 June, but this time in the framework of the ERCI, an entity that brings together 14 large clusters of the industry and the rail sector in 16 European countries (Italy, Poland, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Germany).
During the conference, scientists from the academic environment tackled from different perspectives the challenges faced by public transport operators in terms of safety and the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The day was a success, as over 100 people from 8 European countries attended online.
The talks were focused on specific aspects such as sensor systems that simultaneously control temperature and social distancing, the use of electrochemical sensors to detect the level of viral load, rapid diagnosis platforms of nanosensors against pandemics, and simulation technologies to minimise the risk of contagion caused by flows of air in stations and public transport vehicles.
Participants included Enric Álvarez, researcher in the Computational Biology and Complex Systems Research Group (BIOCOM-SC UPC), who talked about the relationship between contagion and mobility of SARS-CoV-2; Carlos Alemán, director of the Innovation in Materials and Molecular Engineering – Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies (IMEM-BRT) who, along with Pau Turón, director of research and development at B .Braun, presented promising results of a project developed jointly on new strategies for the detection, blocking and elimination of the virus SARS-CoV-2, based on physical and chemical properties of functionalised metal nanoparticles; and Joaquim Rigola, from the Heat and Mass Transfer Technological Center (CTTC UPC), who presented existing technologies in the area of simulation that can minimise the risk of contagion based on air flows as a key element in virus propagation.
The event was jointly funded by the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) of the European Union, as part of the Operational Framework of the ERDF in Catalonia 2014-2020.