by Raffaele Gareri
It is now widely shared that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of ecological, energetic and above all digital transition in Italy and Europe. The process of transformation of civil society was already underway, but our country showed more resistance to change. Instead, some cultural barriers have fallen due to the lockdown and today the business world, and also public administrations, confront with greater courage the transformation of processes, the use of digital platforms and tools and new business models and public services.
The Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Nprr), and the EU funding program plan, also contribute to create a truly extraordinary moment in which the drive for investment, change, sustainability and true innovation is stronger than ever. Of course, some might dust off old projects closed in the drawer, but the growing needs and the greater awareness of institutions, families and young entrepreneurs will help in the selection process of real new digital infrastructures and services, sustainable and inclusive.
Some metropolitan realities are more ready to strengthen their commitment to drive urban and social transformation on the basis of new cultural paradigms imposed by digital technologies (i.e. the ICity Rank 2021 Report in the Pa Forum), but it is necessary to drag into this process of socio-economic development also the areas with lower urban density, because they constitute the backbone of our socio-economic system based on Sme but also in some cases a safeguard of high quality of life.
But above all, it is necessary to strengthen the ability of stakeholders to converge towards shared and unitary growth logics. Too often still the main actors of a city draw up their own industrial plan and / or territorial development plans without participatory processes, comparison and mutual support.
The central elements of the new approach are certainly the ability to design and activate territorial ecosystems, the attention to the shared governance of data and the public- private partnership. Added to this is the importance of knowing how to search for a transversal action to the various vertical application worlds before they close in silos as in previous organizational models. Last but not least, the need to include and support the various sections of the population in its development of digital skills, because otherwise we will not be able to respond to the needs of communities that see great promises in digital technologies, but always have the human being at the center of attention.
Therefore, the urban redevelopment that will characterize the new generation of smart cities, will be a great success the more it will be carried out according to this approach. We will need to combine interventions in buildings, neighborhoods and squares, which will reduce energy consumption and induce sustainable behaviors and lifestyles for communities, and that must be inclusive of different population groups. The enormous advances in materials and design together with new digital technologies (cloud, IoT, AI and blockchain offer us new dimensions of intervention to provide people with an enormously richer and more functional use of space and means. The interconnection of the virtual and real worlds opens up a rediscovery of urban redevelopment interventions not only in cities but also in rural areas that today are therefore less distant from the processes of socio-economic growth.