We had a talk with Prof Johanna Hoffken and Natascha van Bommel, PhD student from the Technical University of Eindhoven. They are responsible for measuring the social impact of MUSE GRIDS in its physical and virtual demosites.
What have been the updates in in your social impact work since last December?
In February, we went to our virtual demonstration sites in Spain: Valladolid and San Cébrian de Campos. We conducted interviews with the mayor of San Cébrian de Campos, and with members of the neighbourhood association of Barrio Bélin in Valladolid. It was a very inspiring research visit, and we were impressed with the connectedness of the neighbours in Barrio Bélin and the environmentally friendly mindset of the people that we interviewed!
What do you think are the most important results on your work since last December?
We have now started the first round of our in-depth field research, which always involves a lot of planning, alignment and theoretical preparation. It is exciting to look at the connected data and to start theorizing from this.
What were the main challenges and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge is one that we are all facing, be it in the Netherlands, where TU/e is based, in Italy, Spain or India, and it is the COVID-19 virus. Corona is affecting all of us, it is a global crisis, and it is a challenge to do research in times of lockdowns and quarantines. We have been very lucky to have carried out our fieldwork in Spain well before travelling and conducting face to face interviews became impossible due to safety reasons. This means that we can start the analysis of the data that we already have collected. We also planned to engage in door-to-door interview activities in Italy. Unfortunately, but for safety and health reasons, these had to be cancelled. Our strategy right now is to stay calm, work with the data that we already have gathered, and shift our work online.