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The Proposal

"An idea to manage urbanization
and to improve people's living environment"




HABITAT II - WORLD CONFERENCE

ISTANBUL, JUNE 1996




PIAZZE TELEMATICHE

"A civic infrastructure for the universal access
to information highways"




The problems which the "Piazze Telematiche"idea is designed to tackle are bound up with two emergency situations:

  • the "work and unemployment emergency"
  • the "social marginalization emergency".

The same time, they also indirectly regard the risks, inconvenience, imbalance and possible disruption that could arise if the development of telematics is left to chance.



TOWARDS THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

The "work and unemployment emergency" displays particular characteristics linked to partially local phenomena but also embedded in an international context marked by the concomitance of four worldwide macro-phenomena:

  • a structural crisis of industry

  • a resulting structural crisis of employment

  • a new enhanced social awareness

  • a demand expressed by citizens for effective and efficient public services

These four global macro-phenomena overlap with two emerging realities:
  • the great advances in telecommunications (TLC) technology

  • the idea that the "knowledge of information" is as important as the information itself.

As a result, changes are under way in political and social relations, industrial relations, the market perspective and the role of the citizen.

Even the constant decrease in the number of jobs (which is unfortunately a structural and hence unavoidable phenomenon) the prospects for employment are pinned to the tertiary-sector society launched by the G7 in 1994 in Naples under the name of the Global Information Society.

Telematics is one of the principal tools capable of opening up new employment prospects.



TOWARDS THE DIGITAL CITY

Over the next few years, cities will undergo transition towards a knowledge-intensive society based on a new powerful TLC infrastructure (the so-called information highways).

Information will constitute the essential raw material upon which to base a new organization of labour and an economy increasingly oriented towards the production and consumption of immaterial goods.

The need to adopt new approaches in planning for the "traditional" cities which are to be transformed into digital cities (i.e. into city-corporations based on the raw material of information, understood as computer science, TLC, multi-media, entertainment, multi-disciplinary meeting, culture, and a tool to ensure the quality of life, etc.) entails the assimilation of a new culture by the Cities.

A city equipped with high-speed telematic networks capable of bringing multi-media applications into citizens' homes is the essential prerequisite if we are to attain widespread use of telematics and meet the growing demands expressed by users.

At the same time, however, we cannot expect a sufficiently large number of citizens to be culturally and finacially capable of equipping themselves with adequate telematic tools over a short period of time. This leads to a serious risk that telematics will come to form the preserve of a limited group of people enjoying sufficient income or technical capacity, with negative reprecussions on the development of the city and the satisfaction of its citizens.

A digital city is not just a wired metropolis, involving no more than household delivery of domestic multi-media applications as a mere combination of the media currently on offer (TV, telephone, PC modem, etc.).

Interaction between people can never be entirely replaced by interaction between the individual and technological devices, which may be able to put one in contact with other parts of the "global village", but do so at the expense of local participation and of interest in one's neighbourhood, in one's urban environment, in social relations with fellow citizens, and hence in the development of opportunities for self-employment and job-creation.



TOWARDS ELECTRONIC DEMOCRACY

Within the urban context, it is essential that telematics should play its part as a new tool to foster opportunities for social and inter-professional meeting and contact with the public administration.

Telematics thus makes it possible to contribute towards improving the quality of politics by increasing the number of opportunities for interaction between the public administration and citizens. This new awareness has already produced some results all over the World through experimentation with civic networks making it possible to communicate, exchange views, interact with administrators, participate in the government of one's city, express ideas and receive public services with greater transparency and efficiency.



MAIN GOALS OF THE "PIAZZE TELEMATICHE" IDEA

TO PROMOTE:

* growth and economic development,

* development of public services,

* improvement of the quality of life,

THROUGH INNOVATIVE USE OF TELEMATIC TECHNOLOGIES.

The challenge that the above main goals is designed to tackle the pursuit of the objectives indicated in three urban scenarios for the city of the future by the XII Directorate for Science and Technology (ACT-VILL project) of the European Union:

the AGORA CITY: a city focused on man and endowed with total harmony between construction and urban space, between social cohesion and economic development;

the GLOCAL CITY (global/local): a city with greater equilibrium between the processes of globalization and the capacity to make the best possible use of local resources as well as differences in specific characteristics and aptitude;

the SUSTAINABLE CITY: a city capable of solving the problems it generates within itself and without shifting the burden to others or to future generations.



PIAZZE TELEMATICHE

The use of the word "piazza" serves to underline the semantic significance of the urban area par excellence traditionally dedicated to communication, meetings, and the exchange of goods (material and immaterial) and services. At the same time, the project is to be seen as a web of urban sites (physical and multicemtre telematic infrastructure) connected by means of telematic networks and sufficiently distributed throughout the territory (city, rural villages, etc.) to ensure "new urban functions". The concentration of high-level, technological innovative services offered by the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE together with social contact, will thus exercise a strong force of attraction capable of triggering the development of a new poly-centric urban structure.

General features of the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE:

  • physical place for the concentration of services based on powerful HW, SW and TLC instruments;

  • public place of access to the knowledge and utilization of the "raw material" of information for the purposes of work, study, creativity and enterprise, an interface with the public administration and with other agents for purposes regarding the following sectors:

  • entrepreneurial/professional/commercial/financial

  • cultural/cognitive/informational

  • administrative/fiscal/social security/authorization

  • entertainment/leisure/social activities, etc.

  • new urban polarity enjoying sufficient critical mass, economies of scale, and environmental liveability to activate an aggregative process based on a mix of interests capable of triggering a virtuous spiral of attraction towards the new polarity

  • pole of attraction for daily commuter flows assuming a precise urban function capable:

  • in the short term, of re-orienting the occasional and permanent flows of mobility;

  • in the medium/long term, of modifying the type and quality of the structures, infrastructures and services gravitating around the new polarity.

In the light of the above, the "PIAZZE TELEMATICHE" idea constitutes:

  • a fresh opportunity to implement a project aimed at the rehabilitation of abandoned buildings and areas and at helping to combat urban fragmentation and the loss of identity typical of metropoltan outskirts, thus triggering processes of re-rooting and integration based upon the following:

  • self-centred development

  • making the best possible use of local resources (human, entrepreneurial, environmental, cultural, etc.)

  • a new stimulus for the local authorities to undertake an entrepreneurial role by launching projects of urban rehabilitation and upgrading based on conditions of project financing negotiated between public agencies and private concerns.



KEY OBJECTIVES OF "PIAZZE TELEMATICHE" IDEA


  • WIDESPREAD TELEMATIC/MULTIMEDIA LITERACY

"PIAZZE TELEMATICHE" infrastructure, enabling universal access to information highways, facilitates the large-scale citizen instruction in the use of telematics and multimedia, thereby promoting the knowledge of the new tools for information and communication.


  • NEW JOBS

As the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE cater for a broad and heterogeneous spectrum of users (thanks to the contemporary presence of social spaces and telematic spaces), they are necessarily multidisciplinary environments and thus constitute the most appropriate setting to stimulate citizens to embark on individual initiatives in the fields of work and enterprise.


  • TELEWORK

By furnishing opportunities for meeting at the professional and social levels, the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE will make it possible to eliminate the inhibitory factors obstructing the spread of telework.

They will thus play a key role in accelerating the spread of this new form of employment.


  • TELEMATIC DEMOCRACY

In the new social reality pervaded by telematics, PIAZZE TELEMATICHE eliminates the risk of the creation of new forms of marginalization stemming from the cultural or financial limitations of some citizens.

The PIAZZE TELEMATICHE will enable citizens to participate spontaneously in telematic conferences on subjects of public interest.

By means of the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE, the City Councils will facilitate the integration of minorities into the social and economic fabric of the city, thus reducing the dangers inherent in marginalization. The social space of the telematic piazzas, i.e. the Internet Club, will enable the minorities to develop stable channels of external communication and opportunities to socialize.



PLANNING OF THE PIAZZE TELEMATICHE

This aspect is of crucial importance to ensure that plans to cable the city are compatible with the provisions of the town planning scheme.

The new Tertiary Society imposes a new approach. Telework, telematic employment, telematic entertainment, the democratic transparency of city policies, etc., entail the creation of innovative structures This gives rise to a new urban dimension of "empty spaces".

The new town planning schemes will have to take into account this new dimension of "empty spaces" superimposed upon "full spaces".

The new Tertiary Society calls for a fully-fledged network of PIAZZE TELEMATICHE, to be planned on the basis of innovative town planning schemes taking into account the simultaneous presence of "empty spaces" and "full spaces".



COMPATIBILITY OF THE PIAZZE TELEMATICHE IDEA WITH ITS GOAL

The PIAZZE TELEMATICHE idea will produce a considerable impact on employment, not so much in direct terms (personnel involved in running the services of the "PIAZZE TELEMATICHE") as in indirect terms:

  • as a stimulus towards accelerated processes of telematic and multi-media literacy and the development of new professional skills;

  • by triggering job-creation processes based on the new services to firms and to citizens supplied through the equipemnt and facilities available in the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE;

  • through the creation of an induced "content-development" market (multi-media databanks, entertainment, etc.) and associated services.

Besides, against the social marginalization emergency, PIAZZE TELEMATICHE leads to the creation of a new civic infrastructure that contributes towards promoting the socio-economic integration of minorities pequality of opportunity within the context of a changing society by launching an operation to promote awareness and understanding of the new technologies and professional skills.The latter possess great potential for the revitalization and reanimation of the district (also in the evening) and hence, indirectly, for increasing neighbourhood livability and safety while offering generalized social benefits.



HOW TO IMPLEMENT AND TO MANAGE THE PIAZZE TELEMATICHE IDEA

For implementing and managing the civic PIAZZE TELEMATICHE infrastructure, should be set up a joint company with mixed public and private capitals (public bodies, telecommunications companies, informatic companies, publishing companies, building companies, banks, professional associations, etc.).

IMPROVEMENTS OF PEOPLE'S LIVING ENVIRONMENTS

For citizens and the economic sector:

  1. Modernization of the system for providing services to citizens and to enterpreises

  2. Modernization of relations between the private and public sectors

  3. Increase in private and public consumption in the sectors of tourism, culture, commerce and computer technology

  4. Increase in employment and new professional activities deriving:

    • from the creation of the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE network

    • from management of the PIAZZE TELEMATICHE network

    • from expansion of the market of the information system as a whole

    • from the creation of a new market for computer-based multimedia products for advertising, popularizing, supplying information, etc.

    • from the large-scale training of secondary-school and university students.



The CITY COUNCILS will be able to:

  • Bring citizens into contact with services and information and improve quality in these sectors

  • Reduce direct pressure on public offices and lay the foundations for the employment of more modern, effective and specifically trained personnel

  • Offer the support of innovative technologies to medium and small firms, to artisans, to shopkeepers, to professionals, to associations of voluntary social workers, to trade union organizations and to associations

  • To enhance the city's image with a view to promotion of the area as a whole

  • Bring citizens into contact with innovative technologies and increase familiarity with their use and usefulness

  • Expand the possibilities of access to computers and means of communication

  • Promote new activities and above all new professional skills

  • Foster the development of new needs and new careers for students and the unemployed as well as new forms of voluntary work for those with spare time.




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