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:
These four global macro-phenomena overlap with two emerging realities:
- 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
- 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
* 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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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".
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:
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.).