The Prodigal Son

On 30th of May, we had a very special guest at talks@swissnex on our terrace: Alberto Hernando, CEO of SThAR and AIT alumni. During his post-doc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Alberto and his colleagues uncovered what they think were a few simple rules that guide the growth of cities. Based on big data, they developed an algorithm which could help local governments predict design, transportation and financial needs as urban areas grow. With this very scientific research, Alberto participated in the 2015 edition of swissnex Brazil’s Academia-Industry Training (AIT) program. The AIT convinced Alberto to turn his research into a business and he founded the spin-off SThAR, which uses sociothermodynamics and big data to quantitatively predict and simulate collective human behavior and movements of people in cities.

At our event he explained how big data can be used to predict, simulate and ideally influence mass movements of people in urban centers. By tracking people via their smartphones and studying where they are and how they are moving, SThAR is able to point out where you can find the people that you are looking for by gender, age and preferences, for example. Alberto explained that they don’t know informations about one specific person, but that the data is aggregated. This means that you can only get trends of mobility and connectivity of the people. With these trends, they can make a forecast and simulate place and time of the presence of a certain group of persons – potencial clients, electorates or donors for NGO’s.