Telematiche F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions
non profit PIAZZE TELEMATICHE®
AN INITIATIVE FOR
THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT and THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
AT THE SERVICE OF
citizens, professionals, planners, local authorities, firms
PLAN, CREATE AND OPERATE
TWO INFRASTRUCTURES OF PUBLIC UTILITY AND NATIONAL INTEREST
A NETWORK OF TELEMATIC PIAZZAS AND TELEAUTOMOBILE CENTERS
A SOCIALLY, ENVIRONMENTALLY AND ECONOMICALLY COMPATIBLE
MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT
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What is the Piazze Telematiche Nonprofit Association?
Piazze Telematiche is a nonprofit technical, scientific and cultural association set up in 1993 by its 8 founding members (four architects, three engineers and one journalist).
Sustainable Development (http://nav.webring.yahoo.com/hub?ring=sustainability&id=39&prev5) and the Information Society (http://www.ispo.cec.be/promotion/i_iswebring.html) constitute the dual challenge to which the Association has sought to respond from the very outset with the proposal for the creation of telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers presented at numerous conferences (http://www.piazzetelematiche.it/convegni1993_2000.html) and last year also at the Information Society Forum organized by the Prime Minister's Office - ref. "Piazze Telematiche per un nuovo modello di sviluppo" (http://www2.palazzochigi.it/fsi/ita/contributi/gruppo1/piazze.htm).
The majority of members are architects and engineers, followed by researchers and marketing experts as well as directors and officials of small, medium and large companies and local authorities at the regional, provincial and municipal level.
At present the natural promoters of the initiative are the individual members present at the local level, who have built up an intense exchange of information and expressed a very promising desire for participation, starting with those local authorities who have adopted the proposal to set up a network of telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers.
Why was "Piazze Telematiche" chosen as the name of the Association?
The Association chose this name on its foundation in 1993 primarily as a reference to the piazza as a symbolic locus of participation and democracy, social solidarity and cohesion, and collective participation in concerts and events, as a place for the exchange of ideas (an agora of thought and philosophy) and for trade (a marketplace), as the emblematic location of the public services available to citizens, as a place where communication and cooperation work to the enormous benefit of everyone.
The piazza telematica or "telematic piazza" of the 21st century is to be understood as a new place in which it is possible to draw upon the semantic associations of the piazza of the past for the development of both social and professional relations, a new urban locus where the traditional functions of social, informational and commercial interaction typical of the marketplace are combined with the new remote forms and functions of interaction typical of tele-activities (tele-training, tele-work, tele-medicine, tele-shopping, tele-banking, etc.).
The name Piazze Telematiche ("telematic piazzas") is intended to stress the fact that what lies at the very heart of sustainable development and the society of mass information is social cohesion rather than tools, as is instead emphasized by names such as Tele-center, Tele-cottage, Video-center, Media-center, Internet café, etc.
Tele, video, media and the Internet are just a few of the tools to be placed at the service of the renaissance of this symbolic location that once, in the distant past, constituted the place where citizens, institutions, craftwork enterprises and other bodies could meet, interact, and participate in social and economic development at the local level.
We stress once again that the fundamental difference between a telematic piazza and a tele-center, tele-cottage, video-center, media-center or Internet café lies in the fact that, in addition to the very latest in Information Technology components, the telematic piazza possesses a set of components with a strong impact on the urban sphere and hence also on styles of social and working life, models of economic development, transport systems and mobility.
What is meant by the term "Piazze Telematiche"?
Here are some definitions and interpretations of the term "Piazze Telematiche".
Piazza: a physical place in which "minds / brains" (the only genuine productive units, and those to which bits and bytes owe their existence) interact within the context of local communities and/or online communities to create new knowledge through the value added on the new ideas and exchanges of information deriving from these relations.
Telematics (from the neologism "télématique" coined in France in 1969 by Nora and Minc) is a blend of telecommunication and informatics (from the Russian neologism informatika) and denotes the branch of information technology whereby knowledge is converted into digital form (bits and bytes) for exchange and transmission over any distance.
Piazze telematiche ("telematic piazzas") are urban locations equipped with diversified technologies capable of enabling all citizens of every social class to find answers to a whole range of needs (connected with work, cultural growth, social intercourse, etc.) through multimedia, online, computer services. These readily accessible urban locations are conducive to the development of a cohesive and united community capable of expanding its boundaries indefinitely also in the form of a virtual community.
Piazze telematiche constitute a set of urban, architectural and public-service nodes in a public framework consisting of a network of strictly public buildings (and their surrounding areas) equipped with the latest in multimedia, servers, LANs and other IT structures calibrated in relation to the potential number of users so as to take the fullest advantage of economies of scale.
Piazze telematiche can consist of a whole variety of indoor and outdoor locations capable of meeting a huge range of cultural, educational, recreational, communicative and commercial needs. They are new public places refurbished to perform urban functions and cater for social intercourse, commercial activities and tele-activities. They will enable both the local residents and people in transit to use equipment of greater complexity and integration than is normally available in the home or the workplace.
The term Piazze Telematiche is ultimately intended to underscore the role of urban, social and economic regeneration that these new locations will be called upon to play in bringing together "local reality" and "virtual / global reality" so as to achieve development based on the objectives laid down in three urban scenarios by the European Union's XII Directorate for Science and Technology (project ACT-VILL) for the urban environment of the 21st century, in which over 80% of the European population will live.
THE AGORA CITY: a city centered on the human being and ensuring complete harmony not only between building and urban space but also between social cohesion and economic development.
THE GLOCAL (GLOBAL/LOCAL) CITY: a city with greater balance between the processes of globalization and the capacity to harness the various local resources, aptitudes and specific characteristics.
THE SUSTAINABLE CITY: a city capable of resolving the problems it generates internally without shifting them to others or to future generations.
What roles and functions can telematic piazzas perform in the urban, social and economic spheres?
- Boosting multimedia and computer literacy among citizens by fostering the dissemination of advanced knowledge for the use of cutting-edge equipment and technologies.
- Carrying out an important supply-side function for leisure activities, entertainment services and cultural initiatives as a place of social interaction and interpersonal relations for the exchange of ideas, opinions and information.
- Acting as an incubator for enterprise by making equipment, services and know-how available for new business ventures in the high-tech sector.
- Constituting an accredited point of access to interactive services and information on a cost or value-added basis as well as a meeting point for different economic concerns.
- Acting as an economic dynamo for the national system as a whole and for the benefit of venture-capital initiatives by reducing the risks of investment as regards projects with particular social aims and public utility (technological innovation, employment in the South of Italy, employment for the young, energy saving, etc.).
- Playing an important part in the urban sphere by contributing to the rehabilitation and redevelopment of buildings and districts included in broader strategic town-planning schemes, and by enhancing the habitability and efficiency of the urban system.
What are the key characteristics of telematic piazzas?
The name "Piazze Telematiche" is used on the one hand to harness the semantic associations of the urban locus traditionally dedicated par excellence to social encounters, communication, and the exchange of goods (both tangible and intangible) and services, and on the other to refer to a system of new urban locations (the Piazze Telematiche network) connected to one another via online network and characterized by the following elements:
- Great powers of social and economic attraction due to the concentration of technologically advanced services and social contacts
- Physical locations with a concentration of services based on powerful hardware, software and telecommunications structures
- Public places enabling everyone to access and utilize the "raw material" of information for work, study and creative enterprise, and providing an interface with the public administration system and other bodies for a vast range of purposes:
- business, professional, commercial, financial
- culture, knowledge, information
- administration, taxation, social security, permits
- entertainment, leisure, social interaction, etc.
- New urban centers endowed with a sufficiently high level of critical mass, economies of scale and environmental habitability to trigger a process of aggregation based on a blend of interests capable of initiating a virtuous spiral of attraction
- Centers of attraction for everyday commuter flows capable of
- redirecting occasional and permanent flows of mobility in the short term
- modifying the type and quality of the structures, infrastructures and services gravitating around the new centers in the medium-long term.
What services are available at telematic piazzas?
The services available at telematic piazzas can be divided into three categories.
- Free services: services made available by the supplying agency (town council, municipal agency, etc.), e.g. council online, civic network services, mass computer literacy services, personal administrative services, healthcare services, etc., financed out of local taxation and advertising revenues.
- Cost-price services: services supplied by the various branches of the public administration, e.g. certificates, applications for documents, assistance for young people seeking employment, etc., to be paid on the basis of actual costs and material consumed and partially financed in the same way as free services.
- Value-added services: services of a commercial nature, e.g. hire of equipment for telework and videoconferences (in the Information Society it should be possible to hire a videoconference system in the same way as we now hire a car, a taxi, or a seat on a plane.
What social and business model is to be adopted in setting up and operating the network of telematic piazzas?
Telematic piazzas are designed to form a locally based technological network of public utility, and their creation is therefore to be regarded as an operation of primary urbanization, social importance and general interest. They will provide everyone with access to "telematic highways" just as everyone now enjoys access to the asphalt highway system making it possible to travel from one place to another by means of whatever vehicle may be available and for any purpose whatsoever.
This means that the territory of a telematic piazza (the building and its surrounding area) must be strictly public, as must the online connections between one telematic piazza and another ("public telematic highways").
Just as a stretch of asphalt highway is operated by the private concern that makes the best bid, management of the "public telematic highways" will be farmed out on a competitive basis to mixed public and private-sector companies (public bodies, TLC companies, IT companies, etc.).
And just as services are provided on a competitive basis in the service areas on asphalt highways (e.g. different brands of petrol and restaurant chains, cost-price and value-added services will be provided on a competitive basis at the telematic piazza to ensure that all citizens, firms and free-lance professionals enjoy access to the full range of free services (certificates, etc.) and services of social utility (computer literacy, employment exchange, televoting, etc.) as well as cost-price and value-added services (telework, telebanking, teleshopping, telebooking, telemedicine, etc.).
What public funding could be used to finance the creation of the network of telematic piazzas?
The sources of funds to be drawn upon in planning, setting up and operating the network of telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers (centri di teleautomobili) are to be sought within the framework of European, Italian and regional programs for sustainable development, the creation of technological networks, environmental protection, etc.
INNOVATIVE ACTIONS for the period 2000-2006
A list is given below of EU initiatives for Sustainable Development and the Information Society.
STRUCTURAL FUNDS 2000-2006
- The Commission has set guidelines for Innovative Actions for the period 2000-2006.
In accordance with the terms of article 4 of FESR regulations 1783/1999 (law 213 of 13 August 1999) and as decided by the Commission, the EU Funds are empowered to finance innovative actions that contribute to the development of innovative methods and practices designed to enhance the quality of activities undertaken in connection with objectives 1, 2 and 3.
In particular, innovative actions will be required to play a role of catalysis, experimentation and exploration as regards the future orientation of regional policies in strategic sectors for EU regions of retarded development in three high-priority areas (http://inforegio.cec.eu.int/innovating):
- regional economy grounded on technological innovation and knowledge
- eEuropaRegio: the Information Society at the service of regional development;
- regional identity and sustainable development: promoting regional cohesion and competitiveness through an integrated approach to economic, environmental and social activities.
- Within the framework of initiatives to promote the Information Society (The EC Information Society Project Office (ISPO) Actions for the Information Society - http://www.ispo.cec.be/), the prize for the best project of July / August 2000 was awarded to "ISIAS" (New Models for Regional Sustainable Development in the Information Society - http://www.ispo.cec.be/showcase/projects/Proj_month/i_public.html), a transnational project between European regions concerned with the issue of Sustainable Development and the Information Society (ref. http://www.isias.org).
- European Regional Information Society Association - http://www.erisa.be/about/
Urban Initiative - Territorial employment pacts - Pilot Projects TERRA and RECITE - Innovative actions
Structural Funds 2000-2006: an opportunity to finance the creation of telematic piazzas in Italy's 8,000 municipalities
The Structural Funds 2000-2006 for Italy amount to about 98 trillion lire including national co-funding. The bulk of these funds (about 70%) will be handled by the regional authorities.
Portugal already appears to have decided to earmark 30% of its allocation of structural funds exclusively for the purposes of developing the Information Society.
If 30% were to be adopted as the parameter of reference for the other European countries, and therefore also in Italy, this would make the sum of over 29 trillion lire available for projects connected with developing the Information Society.
The Piazze Telematiche proposal - http://www.piazzetelematiche.it - envisages the creation of a network of at least 8,000 telematic piazzas, one for each of Italy's 8,000 municipalities with a view to contributing both to Sustainable Development and the Information Society and to the revitalization of innovation in three industrial sectors (estimated cost of 3 billion lire per telematic piazza x 8,000 municipalities = 24,000 billion lire):
The use of further financial resources is also envisaged to connect the telematic piazzas via broadband and at speeds of the order of 1 gigabyte/sec.
- 8,000 billion lire to the building sector for urban rehabilitation and refurbishment
- 8,000 billion lire to the sector of technological infrastructures (TLC connections, LANs, servers, multimedia stations, etc.)
- 8,000 billion lire to the sector of training, software applications, etc. (promoting computer literacy and developing products and services for the local economy)
N.B. : For those interested, the Commission has prepared an eight-page booklet of general information ("Managing the Structural Funds well: a challenge for the development of the Unione), which is available through the Inforegio site: http://www.inforegio.cec.eu.int/wbpro/PRORD/prord2_en.htm
What telematic-piazza Piazze Telematiche projects are currently being launched or underway?
Details are given below of various Piazze Telematiche projects that are currently underway (Municipality of Naples) or being launched (Province of Asti, Municipality of Spoleto, etc.), and can therefore serve as points of reference for institutional bodies and planners.
Out of 724 projects submitted to the Public Administration (PA) Forum (Rome, June 2000) in connection with a competition for "One Hundred PA Projects for the Citizen", 52 received prizes and 48 were registered as approved (total 100).
- PPU "Network of Piazze Telematiche for the city of Naples", financed by EU div. XVI - http://www.technapoli.it/piazza/piazze/piazzetelematiche.html;
- PRUSST (Projects for Sustainable Urban Redevelopment admitted to the Ministry of Public Works classification and declared eligible for funding (ref. "Edilizia e Territorio - Sole 24 Ore" n.20):
- Piazze Telematiche project within the PRUSST / Region of Umbria framework - 20 municipalities led by Spoleto: points awarded: 81.35 - table A - eligible for funding under DM 08/10/1998
- 2) Piazze Telematiche project within the PRUSST / Region of Piedmont- Province of Asti framework for a total of 114 municipalities: points awarded: 54.45 - table B - eligible for funding under Table B of the Finance Act 2000 - http://www.provincia.asti.it/piazzetelematiche.
The PRUSST project submitted by the Province of Asti for the creation of telematic piazzas in 114 municipalities was one of the 52 prizewinners (http://www.provincia.asti.it/piazzetelematiche/premio.htm).
Piazze Telematiche: utopia or necessity?
Piazze Telematiche: utopia or necessity?
Sustainable development and the Information Society constitute the dual challenge to which the Association has sought to respond from the very outset with its proposal for the creation of telematic piazzas, which has been presented at numerous conferences, including last year's Information Society Forum ("Piazze Telematiche for a new model of development" - http://www2.palazzochigi.it/fsi/ita/contributi/gruppo1/piazze.htm).
On all these occasions we have pointed out that the creation of telematic piazzas in all of Italy's 8,000 municipalities will require public investment and that, in the absence of such investment, it is easy to foresee that access to broadband telematic highways will be limited exclusively to areas where there is a market, i.e. where the privatized TLC companies are interested in laying cables. As a result, certain areas will become economically strong and integrated into the global economy, while others will be marginalized and doomed to economic decline.
This is diametrically opposed to the mission of the Piazze Telematiche Association, which has been grounded since the early 1990s on the principles and statements developed at the international level with a view to Sustainable Development and the Information Society. In particular, these include the following:
The principles and statements for Sustainable Development and the Information Society stemming from the above documents and events were reformulated in suitably revised and updated form in the "Local Agenda 21 Guidelines" of the ANPA2000 manual (Agenzia Nazionale Protezione Ambiente - National Agency for the Protection of the Enviroment) and in the e-Europe 2002 Action Plan ("An Information Society For All") submitted to the European Council (http://www.palazzochigi.it/fsi/ita/eEurope/actionplan_ita.htm -
http://europa.eu.int/comm/information_society/eeurope/actionplan/index_en.htm) - in Feira, Portugal, on 19-20 June 2000.
- Agenda 21 - Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit (1992)
- The Delors White Paper and the Bangemann Report
- Programme ACT-VILL (1994-1995) developed by the European Union's XII Directorate of Science and Technology for the city of the 21st century (Urban Utopias: New Tools for the Renaissance of European Cities: Agora City - Glocal City - Sustainable City)
- The Global Information Society - G-7 (1994 - Naples)
- Guidelines for the City of the 21st Century - Habitat II (Istanbul 1996).
In particular, the e-Europe 2002 Action Plan stesses the following principles:
As matters now stand, the privatization of the TLC sector would appear incapable either of fulfilling the requisites set forth in the e-Europe 2002 Action Plan (universal access for everyone everywhere) or of addressing phenomena connected with the development of the Information Society that have deep social and environmental implications. The latter include the following:
- Internet access must be ensured for all European citizens.
- Broadband connections must be ensured also in Europe's depressed and less developed areas.
This shows how wrongheaded it is to rely exclusively on market forces in addressing the dual challenge of the development of the Information Society and the sustainable development of national territory.
- The "digital divide" between info-poor and info-rich, and between young and old. This issue has been raised on various occasions by Al Gore in America, the country with the world's highest percentage of Internet users.
- The fact that infrastructures (antennas for cell phones and satellite transmissions, European fiber-optic infrastructures, etc.) are multiplying faster than advanced telematic services. The introduction of competition in the sector of infrastructures has in fact led the various operators to create their own infrastructures whenever possible.
The privatization of TLC infrastructures is an excellent thing and is producing a host of positive effects on the market, including the reduction of telephone charges and the launching of numerous innovative telematic services. By itself, however, it is not enough to lay the foundations for an Information Society that is cohesive, developed in every one of its local components, and capable of involving all social classes, institutions and firms.
Throughout Italian history, state intervention has always proved essential to ensure the democratic development of access to employment and to goods and services on the occasion of great technological revolutions and epoch-making events.
Given that the Structural Funds for the period 2000-2006 are now to be administered by the regional authorities, multi-regional coordination will be required to ensure that a proportion of these funds is allocated to an infrastructure of such public utility and national interest as the network of 8,000 telematic piazzas, whose characteristics are local but also global in terms of reference to standards of online connection and access to services.
In practical terms, the needs of the municipalities must be taken as the starting point to develop a bottom-up form of coordination proceeding through the provincial and regional authorities in such a way as to channel public funds at the European, national and regional level towards the creation of telematic-piazza infrastructures of public utility and national interest.
It will be necessary to develop a model of coordination between institutions analogous to the model that made the transition from agricultural to industrial society possible through the mass literacy created by the municipal schools of the 19th-20th century. Or the model developed more recently in the 1960s and 1970s to foster the extremely rapid spread of the industrial society through the creation of the national highway system, which connected whole areas that were previously isolated and opened them up to trade.
The initiative promoted by the Association is not a utopia but a necessity of the historical and epochal cycle if we are to accompany and govern the transition from the industrial economy to the dematerialized economy, from the mechanical civilization to the telematic civilization.
What are the needs to which the Piazze Telematiche initiative can provide answers and concrete solutions?
The needs to which the Piazze Telematiche initiative can provide answers and concrete solutions regard the dual challenge to achieve Sustainable Development and the Information Society.
Primary needs for the achievement of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Primary needs for the achievement of the INFORMATION SOCIETY
- Dematerialization of the economy to ensure increased availability of services and satisfaction of the same requirements as today but with reduced consumption of raw materials and territory.
In the nascent Information Society work will not involve producing more objects and more tangible goods but rather more ideas, more knowledge, and goods that are tangible but with a very high intangible content. An example is provided by the "teleautomobile", 80% of whose value is constituted by bits & bytes (design, aesthetics, know-how, onboard digital services, hiring services, etc.) and only 20% by raw materials (steel, plastic, etc.).
A prerequisite for the creation of the new dematerialized economy based on know-how and knowledge is the existence of a social and urban context capable of fostering creativity and hence the production of ideas, of bits & bytes.
This cannot manifest itself in all its possible forms of development within the framework of the present-day urban setting of streets, parking lots, factories, offices, etc., which still continue to characterize our contemporary mechanical civilization.
It is therefore necessary to redevelop national territory as a whole and bring it into line with the requirements of the nascent telematic civilization and the new productive functions based on human creativity, social relations, and the exchange of ideas. And this must take place both at the local level and at the level of virtual communities through the creation of new urban frameworks into which telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers can be embedded.
Bringing the habitat into line with the requirements of the new lifestyles and work scenarios of the Information Society means having cities that are beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, friendly, and safe.
The telematic piazza and teleautomobile center of a district, industrial area or holiday resort serve the precise purpose of creating an urban scenario that is different from the one we now have and more in keeping with the needs of the future telematic civilization. A scenario capable of fostering social cohesion and local development, of combining technological progress and sustainable development, of giving birth to a dematerialized economy.
- Creation of new employment based more on mind / brain and less on muscle, thus achieving transition from quantitative work supported by value chains / muscle / robots (industrial economy / mechanical civilization) to qualitative jobs supported by value webs / mind / digital networks (dematerialized economy / telematic civilization).
The driving force of the dematerialized economy consists of the "minds" of those involved, and its development will depend to a great extent on their quality, health and maintenance. At the same time, however, these "minds" are not "machines" or "robots", but biological components of human beings that need to live in total harmony with nature, technological structures, and other human beings.
Telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers are two territorially based infrastructures whose task it is to contribute toward the creation of a habitat in harmony with the lifestyles and job scenarios of those engaged in the dematerialized economy. The development of this economy will draw increasingly upon "mind" rather than "muscle", as foreshadowed by vocal Internet interfaces, which may well make even the use of keyboards obsolete.
- Countering the two major phenomena of mass ownership characterizing the end of the 20th century, i.e. ownership of office space and associated multimedia equipment and ownership of parking space and associated personal automobile, and the waste of space and raw materials they involve. These phenomena must be redirected towards the mass hiring of multimedia facilities and sustainable mobility services through telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers respectively.
- Organizing the mass hiring of all the goods and services potentially susceptible of use on a time and consumption basis will require a cultural change in which it will be necessary to involve all citizens by offering them the prospect of an enhanced quality of life in all respects.
- Transfer of "virtualized" activities that now take place primarily between offices or between offices and factories toward new frameworks in which the same activities take place between homes (home-based telework) and between the network of telematic piazzas, factories and mobile telework.
Telematic piazzas will serve to counter the phenomenon of psychosomatic illnesses linked to the social isolation resulting from the performance of tele-activities (tele-work, tele-banking, tele-shopping, etc.) in the home or office in front of a workstation. A sample-based survey carried out by one of the American associations of psychologists in 1999 showed that roughly 11 million Internet users out of the total of 200 million were suffering the effects of a sort of "Internet addiction". In practical terms, these 11 million users are so affected by the split between their virtual/global and real/local experiences that they can no longer adapt to real life and end up spending hours and hours in front of the screen. This leads to dizziness as a result of remaining for too long in the same, often incorrect, position or posture, hypertension, migraine, insomnia, etc.
- Development of calibrated large-scale local marketing to create conditions whereby benefits can be maximized and costs minimized for citizens and firms alike with respect to the present situation.
- Creation of infrastructures to give all citizens and all firms access to broadband facilities with speeds of one gigabyte per second (public telematic highways accessible to all).
- Creation of conditions for genuine competition between TLC companies by setting up public digital highways to connect the telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers while fostering the wholly competitive development of privatized telematic highways for the last mile between the telematic piazza (of a particular district, industrial area, rural locality, holiday resort, etc.) and individual houses, blocks of flats, factories, etc.
- Giving all citizens the opportunity to constitute a resource for the development of the Information Society (at the moment of interaction with technological infrastructures and information systems, the citizen not only consumes information and experiences cultural growth but also implicitly indicates the need for new services and thus promotes their development).
- Redeveloping the urban environment to ensure that the "minds/machines" of the Information Society enjoy the environmental/biological conditions required to produce ideas and knowledge, and fostering the replacement of traditional work (little "mind" and a lot of "muscle") with new jobs of a predominantly "mental" type (a lot of "mind" and little "muscle");
- Reorganizing the logistics of access to telematic networks by harnessing economies of scale to ensure easy access at low environmental and social cost.
What is meant by the term "Centri di Teleautomobili"?
The future scenario of a telematic piazza in all districts of medium and large-sized cities and every industrial area, small town and holiday resort must be completed with an organizational model of physical mobility capable of catering for styles of life and work that are totally different from those now in existence and hence entail radical changes also in the utilization of all means of transport, including automobiles.
Let us imagine that the area surrounding the telematic piazza has been converted into a sort of "open-air living-room" complete with greenery and spaces for social intercourse, and that all movement takes place on foot, by mobile walkway, or by means of special vehicles powered by electricity or bio-fuel.
The problem still remains of how to reorganize movement over medium/long distances by automobile.
Hitherto we have always regarded the various means of transport as competing with one another: car versus subway, train versus car and truck, medium-range plane versus train, and so on.
It will be the task of telematics to revolutionize this way of thinking by permitting the creation of a "mobile" network to link the demands of mobility at the local urban level (subway and car, preferably electrical), over medium distances (personal car for greater flexibility), medium-long distances (train by virtue of its competitiveness), and long distances (airplane).
The garages and parking lots located at or near the points of interconnection between the various types of transport can be restructured to serve the associated neighborhood or industrial area as teleautomobile centers offering a range of innovative services:
The network of teleautomobile centers for sustainable mobility will require an extremely powerful telematic and information system to ensure forms of cooperative interoperability between the various vehicle-hire firms similar to the tried and tested forms adopted in the model of interoperability between the various airlines, which make it possible, for example, to ascertain the availability of seats on a flight and make reservations in real time via the Internet or by telephone.
- attended parking facilities for the privately-owned cars of those living near the center or passing through
- customized car-hire services (large, comfortable cars for use on the highway, small electrical vehicles for use in the city, with or without driver, etc.)
- smart cards for access to and payment for the network of services for sustainable mobility (booking, hire of personalized vehicles, information, etc.).
In terms of our analogy, the teleautomobile center plays the part of an airport and the teleautomobile itself that of the seat hired on a certain flight /airplane.
In practical terms, the task involves organizing a network of teleautomobile centers that is evenly distributed throughout national territory in such a way that it becomes as easy to book and use a hired car as it now is to book and hire a seat on a flight / plane leaving from any airport.
Are there initiatives similar to Piazze Telematiche in other countries?
Public, private or joint public and private initiatives to create locally based infrastructures open to all citizens and based on the massive use of information technology are currently proliferating in all parts of the world.
While awaiting the implementation of plans to bring broadband fiber-optics into all homes, offices and factories, institutional bodies and private concerns are developing alternative strategies to meet the demand for access to the digital highways expressed not only by the pioneers of the Information Society (sometimes referred to as global intellectual nomads or GINs) but also by people who will never be GINs for reasons of age, knowledge of IT, global lifestyle, etc.
Concentrated primarily in the 15-35 age group, global intellectual nomads move from one part of the world to another for purposes of study, work and pleasure, and have a constant need of access to the Web in all their activities because they study, work and play by using and consuming information and services, making more and more use of mind (hence the "intellectual" element of the acronym) and less and less use of muscle.
The keywords of this new era of access for all, GINs and non-GINs alike, are telecenter, telecottage, videocenter, Internet cafč, Internet shop, mediacenter, telematic piazza, etc.
There are now so many initiatives underway and developing at such speed that it is by no means easy to keep tabs on them all.
In Canada a project was launched by the Community Access Program (http://cap.ic.gc.ca/) in December 1999 to set up 10,000 public telecenters (5,000 in rural localities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants and 5,000 in urban localities with more than 50,000 inhabitants). By May 2000, unexpectedly before the deadline, applications had already been submitted for funds for 5,000 rural telecenters, and the numbers are expected to reach the same level by the end of the year for telecenters in urban areas.
Similar developments are underway in Australia (http://www.teleservices.net.au/).
In Great Britain halfway through 1999 the Easy Group was responsible for creating the world's largest Internet cafés (http://www.easyeverything.com), open round the clock.
In Spain, telecentros publicos are to be created in Madrid and the Madrid region (http://www.civila.com/hispania/autonomia/telec-elmundo.htm).
In Africa five pilot schemes have been launched for multipurpose community telecenters.
There are also numerous initiatives underway in Europe (http://www.eatur.com/twa.htm), in the USA (http://www.ctcnet.org), and in a host of other countries (http://www.telecentro.net/).
After launching the above-mentioned plan to finance the creation of 10,000 public telecenters, the Canadian government announced on 16 October 2000 that a plan was to be launched by the ministry of industry (http://www.ic.gc.ca/) to ensure high-speed broadband connection throughout the country by 2004 and that a National Broadband Task Force was to be specially created for this purpose.
The Canadian government sees this initiative as a way of narrowing the "digital divide" between urban communities and remote rural communities in the country. It is indeed believed that without government intervention the latter could well be excluded from the opportunities offered by technology. High-speed broadband access is also seen as a first step towards improving distance training and telemedicine services and enabling small firms to reach broader markets.
Further information on projects to create urban centers for public access to online services is available via numerous links in the relevant section of the Piazze Telematiche site
What are the distinguishing features of telematic piazzas with respect to telecenters, videocenters, mediacenters and other such structures?
While it is difficult to draw up a precise list of all the principal characteristics of these new structures (telecenters, videocenters, mediacenters, Internet cafés, etc.), we can attempt an initial breakdown into three categories:
Generally speaking, all three types of structure develop where there is a strong demand for multimedia and Internet access, with a view both to tackling social problems (e.g. illiteracy) and to promoting direct or indirect business.
- Structures with a primarily social orientation, e.g. the network of 400 community technology centers in the USA (http://www.ctcnet.org) or the 10,000 public telecenters planned by the Canadian government through the Community Access Program (http://cap.ic.gc.ca/).
- Structures with a primarily business orientation, e.g. those set up by the London-based Easy Group (http://www.easyeverything.com), which have been spreading since halfway through 1999 in all the major cosmopolitan capitals, from London to Madrid, Amsterdam, New York, Rome, etc., and offer from 300 to over 800 Internat access points.
- Structures for the promotion of non-telematic business, e.g. Internet Cafés, where Internet access points are offered free of charge by bars / cafés in order to attract custom.
Regardless of whether their orientation is exclusively social (with services wholly free of charge) or exclusively commercial (located in places that traditionally handle large flows of potential customers, e.g. city centers, railway and subway stations, etc.), in our view these structures are not sufficient to foster genuine transition from the industrial economy to the dematerialized or telematic economy that must serves as the basis is we are to attain the twin goals of Sustainable Development and the Information Society.
Internet shops (http://www.easyeverything.com) and Internet points such as NetGate (http://www.thenetgate.it) constitute model structures to be emulated by virtue of the de facto standards they are helping to establish for Internet access in places open to the public. At the same time, however, they lead to further concentration of services in city centers, stations, etc.
The telematic networks used exclusively in this way do not ultimately serve to relocate services and activities over the whole of national territory, but rather to relocate workers and citizens in the places where everything is already concentrated in terms of services, work, business, etc. They thus contribute to the large-scale spreading of telematic technology and the Information Society, but without also fostering the necessary equitable redistribution of employment, activities, services and so on over the whole of national territory for the purposes of boosting local-level social cohesion, urban rehabilitation and redevelopment, the recovery and development of depressed and marginal areas, etc.
The problems highlighted above are issues of a general nature that have a direct bearing on the social sphere and on political decisions for economic and local development. In no way can responsibility be delegated to entrepreneurs, whose task is to focus exclusively on seizing market opportunities wherever a market exists.
We do not, for example, regard Internet shops (http://www.easyeverything.com) as capable of making any real contribution towards modifying the present functional organization of national territory with a view to the production of intangible goods and services for the new dematerialized economy, which the Association regards as hinging upon the following factors:
This view holds also for all the other types of structure oriented solely towards business or the market.
- social cohesion
- social and economic development at the local level in competition with the global system
- large-scale hiring of goods and services
The proposal to create a network of telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers is also designed to counter the negative aspects inherent in the phenomena highlighted above while harnessing and expanding the innumerable positive and indeed pioneering features they contain, which are essential to the creation of an Information Society and Information Market.
How can the Piazze Telematiche network help to boost Italy's competitiveness?
The initiatives underway throughout the world (see the previous FAQ) suggest that within a fairly short space of time (i.e. by 2003-2006) countries will be divided into those with a network of telecenters, telecottages, videocenters, Internet cafčs, Internet shops, mediacenters, telematic piazzas, etc., and those without.
There are also numerous projects in Italy for structures offering access to the Internet and various online services, but they are isolated initiatives still in search of a model of reference.
Among other things, there is absolutely no guarantee that such structures will, once operative, constitute effective tools serving to modify the present functional organization of national territory with a view to achieving the twofold objective pursued by the Piazze Telematiche Association from the very outset, namely Sustainable Development and the Information Society.
The achievement of Sustainable Development and the Information Society will entail a process focusing primarily on the needs and requirements of social and economic development at the local level and ensuring the participation of all the parties involved (citizens, institutions and firms) together with a judiciously calibrated harnessing of all the opportunities offered by the globalization of knowledge and markets.
The Piazze Telematiche model could also provide a concrete point of reference as an infrastructure serving local needs with a view to the creation of a type of federalism grounded on social and economic development at the local level and capable of jointly harnessing global values, rules and principles together with technological advances and sustainable development. Equal opportunities to play an active role in the Information Society are thus offered to all alike - young and old, rich and poor, right-wing and left-wing, those living in mountain areas and those on the plain - with no distinctions in terms of class, age and wealth, and regardless of where they live or work.
The proposal put forward by the Piazze Telematiche Association (also at the Information Society Forum organized by the Prime Minister's Office (ref. "Piazze Telematiche per un nuovo modello di sviluppo" - http://www2.palazzochigi.it/fsi/ita/contributi/gruppo1/piazze.htm) is that Italy should also act swiftly to equip itself by 2003-2006 with a network of at least 8,000 telematic piazzas, one for each of the 8,000 Italian municipalities. We maintain that Italy's competitiveness must be considered with reference to the competitiveness of other countries and the specific policies adopted by them, taking into account their recent and ancient history, forms of town planning, models of public and private transport, etc.
We believe that the concept of telematic piazzas is more suitable for Italian cities and all European and southern Mediterranean countries due to their historical experience, urban conformation, and models of social and economic development at the local level in the centuries prior to industrialization. These are countries where the piazza, for good or ill, has always been central locus and symbol of all development and innovation.
What advantages are teleautomobile centers and telematic piazzas expected to provide in terms of socio-economic and urban impact?
- The conversion of industrial areas, parking lots and buildings to perform new urban functions will serve to reduce the waste of space. The two major phenomena of mass ownership characterizing the end of the 20th century - i.e. ownership of office space and associated multimedia equipment and ownership of parking space and associated personal automobile - will be redirected towards the mass hiring of multimedia facilities and sustainable mobility services through telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers respectively.
- The chaotic phenomena associated with random remote interaction scattered over metropolitan territory will attain self-regulation through the creation of strong poles of social and economic attraction in telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers.
The flows of traffic and information will be redirected as a result of the creation of telematic piazzas and teleautomobile centers at the neighborhood or district level offering opportunities for telework, car-hire services, and access both to Internet services and to the overwhelming majority of the functions of the modern city.
- The infrastructural and functional system of the territory as a whole will achieve self-generated reorganization.
- Centers will be created for the control and management of electromagnetic pollution, the logistics of activities connected with e-commerce, and other phenomena.
- Greater control over electronic piracy will be achieved due to the fact that it is simpler to develop anti-piracy systems for a limited number of telematic piazzas (about 20,000 in the whole of Italy, assuming one for every district of the large metropolitan areas) than attempt to control 19,000,000 home Internet access points (approximately one for every Italian family) if no telematic piazzas are created.
- The constant upgrading of technological infrastructures as a result of obsolescence will serve to reduce the quantity of electronic junk and other forms of waste.
What advantages are expected in terms of improving the living and working environment for citizens and economic agents?
The advantages expected are as follows:
- Modernization of the system supplying services for citizens and economic agents
- Modernization of relations between the public and private sectors
- Increased private and public consumption in the sectors of tourism, IT, culture and commerce due to the increased number of users
- Increase in employment and new professional activities derived
The significant impact expected from the creation of telematic piazzas on employment should come not so much directly (personnel operating telematic-piazza services) as in indirect terms as a result of the following:
- from creation of the Piazze Telematiche network
- from management of the Piazze Telematiche network
- from expansion of market spaces of Internet system as a whole
- from the opening up of new markets for multimedia products
- from the large-scale spreading of skills among high-school and university students
The network of telematic piazzas can also contribute towards tackling the emergency situation of social marginalization by creating a new civic infrastructure to promote the socioeconomic integration of minorities and equal opportunities within the framework of a changing society through increased awareness and understanding of new technologies and specialized professional skills.
- stimulus towards accelerated processes of telematic and multimedia literacy and the development of new skills
- job-creation processes based on new services for firms and citizens focusing on the equipment and services available at telematic piazzas
- creation of indirect market for the development of "content" (multimedia databases, entertainment, etc.) and associated services.
Finally, it is also reasonable to expect great development potential from the revitalization of neighborhoods (also during the evening hours), which should also serve indirectly to increase environmental habitability and safety.
What advantages are expected for local authorities at the municipal, provincial and regional level?
The local authorities will be in a position to
- make services and information more readily available to citizens and improve their quality
- reduce direct pressure on public offices and lay the foundations for the use of more modern, effective and specially trained personnel
- offer the support of innovative technologies to small and medium-sized enterprises, craftsmen, shopkeepers, professionals, voluntary organizations and trade unions operating at the local level
- benefit from enhanced image also for the purposes of promoting their respective areas
- make innovative technologies more readily available to citizens and more "familiar" as regards use and utility
- expand the possibilities of access to media and communications offered by the new equipment
- promote new activities and above all new skills at the local level
- act as incubators for the development of new needs and new jobs for students and the unemployed as well as new forms of voluntary work
- launch projects for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of disused areas and buildings so as to help counter the phenomenon of urban fragmentation and lack of identity by triggering new processes of rootage and integration based on
- self-centered development
- harnessing of local resources (human, entrepreneurial, environmental, cultural, etc.)
- play an entrepreneurial role by launching rehabilitation and redevelopment schemes based on project financing agreements with private concerns.
What are the disadvantages?
The only possible disadvantage that we can see at present in connection with implementation of the Piazze Telematiche proposal - if indeed this is to be regarded as a drawback - is the fact that we shall all have to grow culturally and accept new lifestyles and forms of employment. For those of a more conservative nature, changes in lifestyle and work could really constitute a great disadvantage.
All comments and suggestions on this point should be sent to email@example.com
How does the Association intend to promote Piazze Telematiche projects at the municipal, provincial and regional level?
Through its own website, the Piazze Telematiche Association intends to continue developing general information services and reserved services accessible via password for its institutional, company and professional members.
The objective of the Association is to make efficient, low-cost interactive services harnessing economies of scale available to all promoters of technological innovation at the local level, i.e. citizens, institutions, professionals, firms, sectorial associations, and nonprofit associations.
These services will also serve as a channel to gather information on the needs and requirements of citizens, institutions, professionals, managers and firms.
The objective in this start-up phase of the Piazze Telematiche initiative is to facilitate the above agents of new models of development in the drafting of preliminary feasibility studies, projects, etc. This should serve to develop a sort of online coordination ensuring that once telematic connections have been established between the individual telematic piazzas at the local level, they will come to form an infrastructure of public utility and national interest capable of satisfying the guidelines laid down by the European Commission for the Structural Funds 2000-2006 (Urban Initiative - Territorial pacts for employment -Pilot schemes TERRA and RECITE - Innovative Actions) and hence qualify for public funds for social and economic development at the local level.
The network of telematic piazzas can become a reality only if they are planned, created and operated with the involvement and participation of all the local forces.
In practical terms, the Association's aim is to continue to transfer (via the Internet and its own website) to all the 21 regions, 103 provinces and 8,000 municipalities the knowledge and experience gained by all the bodies already involved in the planning and creation of telematic piazzas (over 150 local authorities at the regional, provincial and municipal levels). In addition to the local authorities, a key role is also played in these activities by numerous professionals, planners and firms.
Is there a list of sites providing information on projects and issues regarding access to telematic services from public places?
Though by no means exhaustive, the list of sites given below offers an overview of ongoing developments.
All info to update the list will be most gratefully received. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SITES CONCERNED WITH ACCESS TO TELEMATIC SERVICES FROM PUBLIC PLACES
Telecentres and Telework Association
Community Centers Network (USA)
Internet Shops (UK )
Centro Multimediale (Italy)
Nexus Telecentre (Italy)
Infomont Telecentre (Italy)
Telecentri in Europa
Telecentri nel Mondo
Cabinas Publicas (Perů)
Community Access Program (Canada)
Connecting Canadians Feature Articles (Canada)
DigiClub (California USA)
Bienvenue chez GlobeNet, l'Internet associatif et solidaire
Dover Community Telecentre Inc.
Community Teleservices Australia
Telecentro di Navarra
Telecentri di Barbastro y Calatayud Aragón
International Institute for Communication and Development
Models for Digital Cities: New roles of community networking
Electronic Public Space in 1998: Civic and Community Networks
Community Computer Networks: Building Electronic Greenbelts
Telecenters and Libraries: New Technologies and New Partnerships
Aprobada la instalación de «telecentros» en la región (Madrid)
EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON DEMOCRACY AND MULTIMEDIA NETWORKS