Cities Tech and Policy Solutions to fight Climate Change

Cities Tech and Policy Solutions to fight Climate Change

In recent years, climate technologies have been deployed on an unprecedented scale around the globe. In particular, renewable energy technologies are grown in importance at the expense of fossil fuel, especially in Europe. In that scenario, the Paris Climate Change Agreement states the importance to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius and spreading the use of climate technologies on a much greater scale. Therefore, addressing the problem where more than 70 per cent of global gas emission are produced, namely the cities, is the priority.

In recent years, all around the world, decision-makers, urban practitioners, social innovators and academics have planned, implemented and assessed several solutions in urban context. With the aim of accounting and empowering cities, and collectivizing urban innovation across the globe, different conferences have been taking place.

In May 2017, UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee organized Bonn Climate Change Conference to reinforce the importance of innovation and inspire countries (especially the developing ones), organizations to enhance their climate efforts. The key factor is to shift from an incremental approach to one that effects transformational change; but it is also crucial that every country and city should have the freedom of choice how to implement this change: one-size-fits-all approach is definitely wrong.

Last March, Cities and Climate Change Science Conference was the first summit organized with the aim of bringing together urban representatives to address climate change. Here, key stakeholder (ICLEI – Local Governments for SustainabilityC40Cities AllianceFuture EarthSustainable Development Solutions NetworkUnited Cities and Local GovernmentsUN EnvironmentUN HabitatWorld Climate Research Programme) debated around the importance of specifically address urban level action, the impact and vulnerabilities from urban emissions the transition to low carbon, resilient cities and the creation of an enabling environment for transformative climate action. At the end of the conference, participants have understood that best practices in urban climate change management must adopt similar pathways, such as

  1. the integration of climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives;
  2. the linking of disaster and adaptation planning;
  3. generation of climate action plans in partnership with non-governmental stakeholders;
  4. attention to the needs of the disadvantaged and most vulnerable;
  5. the advancement of good governance, partnership networks, and solutions to gaps in financing.

Last September, City Climate Leadership Awards by the C40 City Climate Leadership Group (C40) and Siemens have awarded cities in different categories such as urban transportation; carbon measurement & planning; energy efficient built environment; air quality; green energy; adaptation & resilience; sustainable communities; waste management; intelligent city infrastructure; finance & economic development. In terms of climate change, it is important to remember the city of Copenhagen has planned ambitious targets and has detailed strategies to achieve a significant reduction in building emissions (75% of the total) with the aim of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025, following the example of another Danish city, Sønderborg. Here, from 2007, local politicians have worked directly with residents to become completely zero-carbon by 2029 thanks to the adoption of onshore and offshore wind farms, residential solar PVs, and the use of biogas for industry and transport.

In conclusion, conferences such as ones described before, help in establishing partnerships and in identifying business opportunities, and promoting awareness and critical reflection among inhabitants of different cities. In this respect, we are keen to see the impact of Smart City Expo World Congress 2018 that is taking place in Barcelona in these days. According to the official website, five main topics will be addressed: Digital Transformation, Urban Environment, Mobility, Governance & Finance, and Inclusive & Sharing Cities. The conference is focused on working towards creating efficient, inclusive and sustainable cities, especially thanks to the Towards Zero Waste project that aims to use fewer materials, reuse and recycling of products, and produce no food waste.

Smart city development: The Milan model

Smart city development: The Milan model

Milan has been ranked 1st Italian smart city for the fifth consecutive year by the ICity Rate 2018 report, and 2nd on Ernst & Young’s Italian smart city index 2016, following closely behind Bologna.

But what does it mean exactly for a city to be “smart”? Although many attempts have been made at defining the main attributes of a smart city, there is currently no consensual academic definition. Bianca Wylie considers that behind the smokescreen of the marketing language, it is simply a term “usually used to describe the use of technology and data in cities”[1]. As such, the smart city is often criticized as a concept which only focuses on technology to depoliticize urban phenomena, ignore issues of social justice, and favour new incursions of large tech firms in the shaping of urban infrastructures. Other authors try to define the smart city in broader terms that go beyond the sole focus on technology. Gillinger et al. (2007[2]) for instance, ranked 70 European cities on six dimensions: smart economy (competitiveness), smart people (human and social capital), smart governance (participation), smart mobility (transport and ICTs), smart environment (natural resources), and smart living (quality of life).

ICity Rate’s ranking is based on the analysis of 15 dimensions, including social (social inclusion), political (civic participation), economic (economic solidity), technological (digital transformation), and environmental ones (green infrastructures). Milan mostly owes its first position to its results in terms of economic solidity, research and innovation, employment, and cultural attractivity, while it scores far lower on environmental dimensions (e.g. land and territory, air and water). The fact that Milan only reaches the second place on the Italian Smart Index 2016, is probably due to the much greater focus this ranking put on technological dimensions.

In this short piece, we propose to discuss what makes the originality of Milan’s approach to the smart city. To this question, we will answer that its originality essentially resides in its model of participatory governance and social innovation.


Participatory governance

The development of Milan’s smart city approach can be traced back to the election of Mayor Giuliano Pisapia in 2011, at the head of a left-wing coalition. That year, Milan’s city council voted a Local Government Plan focusing on issues of greening, infrastructures, and public services. The plan both required citizen’s participation from the early stages of the process and promoted the contribution of private actors (non-profit and for-profit) to public interest objectives. The Plan did not specifically focus on the development of ICTs. However, many of its programs were later reframed and integrated to a wider smart city strategy, that implied increased investments in ICT infrastructures.

In 2012, the municipality chose to adopt a strategy based on coordination rather than implementation, in the construction of its smart city agenda. The responsibility for the coordination was given to two members of the municipal administration: the Councillor for Employment Policies, Economic Development, University and Research, and the head of the department in charge of Economic Innovation, Smart City, and University. The coordination developed was simultaneously internal – assuring the coherence of the multiple smart-related projects within the municipality – and external – assuring the coherence of the interactions between the different stakeholders and the citizens. The smart city strategy was co-produced with the citizens and selected categories of stakeholders (firms, universities, financial institutions, the third sector, other public administrations). In the consultation process, six working groups were created corresponding to six smart city pillars (smart economy, smart living, smart environment, smart mobility, smart people, smart governance), and one large public and participatory event was organized for each pillar. The Chamber of Commerce of Milan was also actively involved in the organization of the process.

This model of participatory governance based on coordination, facilitation of co-creation and shared decision processes, shows the specificity of Milan’s approach to the smart city, as opposed to, Barcelona’s smart city model for instance, in which the public hardly participates to anything (Gasco et al. 2016[3]). Apart from the overall construction process of the smart city strategy, other specific projects illustrate the participatory model of Milan’s smart city approach. For example, Milan has decided to manage 9 million euros of its budget through a participatory approach. Within the four months following the launching of the project in July 2015, 60 meetings were organized throughout the city to collect suggestions and proposals from citizens. These suggestions were then processed by nine working groups, that received the support of the municipality’s technical staff and have been attended to by more than 200 citizens.


Social innovation

Since the election of Mayor Pisapia in 2011 and continuing with the election of Mayor Sala in 2016, Milan has chosen to put social innovation at the centre of its smart city framework. This means that the framework is not only about the promotion of ICTs in the making of the city, but is essentially concerned with addressing relevant social problems and promoting a sustainable and inclusive model of development. Armondi and Bruzzese (2017[4]) claim that “social innovation, as a principle, can be assumed to be the antithesis of the conventional smart city rhetoric”, and even that “the “Milan model” of smart city policy has the potential to contest the existing neoliberal smart city framings criticized in literature”. While we should probably remain sceptical at such enthusiastic statements – especially considering the large influence the private for-profit sector had in shaping and implementing Milan’s smart city strategy – we must acknowledge that the municipality’s insistence on social innovation, far from being mere rhetoric, is rather substantial.

A result of the consultation process previously described, was the delineation of the “Milan IN-Policy” which has two interrelated dimensions:

  • The promotion of innovation to foster the development of the regional economic ecosystem, through policy making and financial resources invested by the municipality in innovative start-ups, fab labs, incubators and the collaborative economy.
  • The promotion of social inclusion, through the creation of employment – especially in the collaborative economy – and through initiatives in critical neighbourhoods.

An essential leverage to achieve these objectives has been the renovation and reuse of vacant public real estate, related to the Municipality resolution n. 1978/2012. Numerous buildings owned by the municipality contain abandoned spaces which have lost their original functions (they used to be shops, workshops, warehouse, offices, recreational spaces…). The city owns 869 of these diverse units, the average surface of which is of 60 square meters. The city also counts about five million square meters of former industrial areas, that have been progressively abandoned with the decline of the industry since the 1980’s. These sites usually do not belong to the municipality but are left unused in a context of stagnation of the real estate market. The municipality’s smart city agenda has thus been focusing on these spatial opportunities, by renovating vacant public properties and supporting private actors willing to renovate abandoned industrial sites. The municipality has invested 1.5 million euros in the restoration of public buildings, which resulted in the regeneration of approximately 300 spaces.

FabriQ Milano


Here are some of the results of this policy:

  • Base (2016): an innovative mixed-use space promoting new relationships between culture and economy, future and everyday life, and between democracy, wellbeing, and the knowledge economy. It used to be an abandoned industrial building owned by the municipality.
  • Mhuma (2017): aspires to be a central fab lab for Milan and the whole country, as well as a service and learning centre for the international makers community. It used to be an abandoned industrial building owned by the municipality.
  • FabriQ (2014): an incubator for social economy and innovation, opened in Quarto Oggiaro, a deprived public housing neighbourhood cumulating multiple social problems (social segregation, unemployment, poverty…). FabriQ supports non-profit enterprises, as well as for-profit enterprises with a clear social orientation.
  • Speed Mi Up (2013): Incubator for innovative start-ups.
  • Nine accredited fab labs were developed on vacant public properties.
  • 58 accredited co-working spaces with a total of 364 co-workers.


Base Milano


Armondi S. & Bruzzese A. (2017) Contemporary Production

and Urban Change: The Case of Milan, Journal of Urban Technology, 24:3, 27-45

Ernst & Young, Italia Smart, Rapporto Smart City Index 2016

Gascó, M., Trivellato, B., & Cavenago, D. (2016). How do southern European cities foster innovation? Lessons from the experience of the smart city approaches of Barcelona and Milan. In Smarter as the New Urban Agenda (pp. 191-206). Springer, Cham.

Farhad Manjoo, “How tech companies conquered America’s cities”, The New York Times, June 21, 2018

FPA Digital 360, ICity Rate 2018, “ICity Rate 2018: ecco qual è la città più “smart” d’Italia per il 5° anno consecutivo, 20 città del Sud fanalino di coda”, October 17, 2018

Sgaragli F., Montanari F., Milan White Paper on Social Innovation: accelerating Milan’s local ecosystem for social innovation

Wylie B., “Searching for the Smart City’s Democratic Future”, August 13, 2018.

[1] Searching for the Smart City’s Democratic Future, Bianca Wylie, August 13, 2018.

[2] Giffinger, R., Fertner, C., Kramar, H., Kalasek, R., Pichler-Milanovic, N., & Meijers, E. (2007).

Smart cities: Ranking of European medium-sized cities. Vienna: Center of Regional Science.
Quoted in Gascó, M., Trivellato, B., & Cavenago, D. (2016). How do southern European cities foster innovation? Lessons from the experience of the smart city approaches of Barcelona and Milan. In Smarter as the New Urban Agenda (pp. 191-206). Springer, Cham.

[3] Gascó, M., Trivellato, B., & Cavenago, D. (2016). How do southern European cities foster innovation? Lessons from the experience of the smart city approaches of Barcelona and Milan. In Smarter as the New Urban Agenda (pp. 191-206). Springer, Cham.

[4] Simonetta Armondi & Antonella Bruzzese (2017) Contemporary Production

and Urban Change: The Case of Milan, Journal of Urban Technology, 24:3, 27-45

Climate Change and Environmental Risk in the City

Climate Change and Environmental Risk in the City

Environmental issues are becoming more and more a key challenge for cities around the world. C40 shows that “70% of cities are already dealing with the effects of climate change”. Cities have played a significant role in accelerating risks because of the continuous and unlimited urban growth we have witnessed in the past years. They are becoming bigger and bigger, creating over 70% of global CO2 emissions, and consuming ⅔ of the world’s energy. A striking C40 data warns us of the catastrophic effects that climate change can have on urban societies in the future: “Over 90% of all urban areas are coastal, putting most cities on Earth at risk of flooding from rising sea levels and powerful storms”.

What are the consequences of these environmental risks for the future of our cities? How to manage it? What solutions can we find?

In order to avoid any simplistic explanation on a topic of such importance and complexity, we ought to make clarity on the real terms of the discussion. What is risk and how do we define it?

Ulrich Beck sees a different and more obscure dimension to development; a “risk society” based on an acute awareness of risks and loss of faith in progress.
Even more interesting, is how this reflexive modernity embodies the exegesis of the progressive disillusion with institutional and traditional politics. According to Beck this detachment from traditional rhetorics produces a “sub-politics”, concerned with issues such as consumption and lifestyle.
Following this post-modern flavor, Beck concentrated initially on environmental issues such as the problematization of energy. Unlike goods, these “bads” could not be subject to a politics of distribution. The smog produced by domestic coal-burning, affected everyone. Because of this “egalitarian” redistributive effect, environmental hazards constitute an undiscriminated threat for everyone.

Natural hazards and disaster produce increasing catastrophes in cities (just see what has blown up Italy in the last few days!). That does not mean that other kinds of hazards are incapable of producing urban catastrophes. The answer is that natural hazards are joint products of nature and society. Unlike the other threats just mentioned, they are only partly created by humans; thus their unpredictable nature contributes to an incremental and general insecurity.

Since the industrial revolution cities are risk-producers and risk-bearers, both victims and executioners. Economic activity, sprawl and proximity have caused cities to become less and less sustainable; in particular we can infer a negative correlation between economic productivity and sustainability. Take a city-state as Singapore for example; in 1965 it was a polluter’s paradise: mucky rivers, polluted canals and raw sewage running rampant. A modern “Coke Town”. Per contra, things are changing because of the efforts of enlightened personalities. The city’s pioneer generation understood that if you make a city “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest.” Lee Kuan Yew became often called ‘Chief Gardener’ for his belief in the power of plants and biodiversity to transform people’s overall mental well-being, as well as physical spaces. Huge plants crawling up skyscrapers, natural parks and water sanitation measures (just to clean-up Singapore’s river took around 10 years!) represent a significant step towards global future objectives.

The renowned 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development addresses global challenges such as poverty, inequality but also climate and environmental degradation Nevertheless, 12 years seem to be not enough to face multifarious issues. Concerns have been raised too by the ASviS (Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile). In the recently issued report, the association expressed its concern with respect to the “too slow” progress towards the SDGs, both for Italy and the European Union, which should present a framework of policies by the end of the year.

The 7th Environment Action Program (EAP) constitutes for the moment, the legislative and guiding framework to work on, identifying key objectives such as the protection of natural capital; the transformation towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy; and to safeguard Union’s citizens fro environment-related pressures.



Therefore, we should prepare our institutions and environmental management strategies for the twenty-first century, especially in the mega-cities that will likely become the pivots of global society. Worth mentioning is what 100 Resilient Cities does and aims to; pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, their ultimate objective is to help cities to become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges – earthquakes, floods, sprawl, etc. – of the XXI century. Their philosophy is that, addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

Thus, can we meet the basic needs—food, water, and energy—of a growing population and a growing economy and do better for biodiversity by 2030? If each country shows an increasing commitment towards environmental risk management, the answer will be probably an affirmative one. As James Mitchell has observed, failure to recognize natural hazards as a worsening urban problem suggests a myopic view of urban management and signals flaws in the conceptualization of sustainable development as a principle of urban management. It is to be hoped that efforts will be canalized into correcting the structural deficiencies peculiar of our risk society.

Rome’s transportation crisis: an overview ahead of the referendum

Rome’s transportation crisis: an overview ahead of the referendum

By Carlo Epifanio and Cosima Malandrino

With almost 3 million inhabitants, the Metropolitan City of Rome holds the first place as far as the use of private transportation is concerned among the biggest cities in Europe. Second only to London in extension in the old continent, Rome expands over 1284 km² with a stunning 50% of modal share for car transportation, suffering from high traffic congestion and pollution. The crisis of public transportation is evident when looking at these numbers. With an inefficient service, a chaotic governance model, and continuous scandals, Rome’s unresolved transportation crisis forged a city of social fragmentation, environmental degrade, and economic stagnation. Today, Rome lags far behind its European counterparts in the implementation of a sustainable urban agenda, where mobility policies play a fundamental role.

To face these systemic inefficiencies, the Radical Party has registered the petition to call for a popular consultative referendum, which will take place on November 11. The two main items to be voted on with a YES or NO are namely whether the public transport in Rome should be organized after a public tender where both private and public actors can participate, and if the city administration should promote competition in providing the service.

Highlighting the social, economic and environmental risks deriving from an outdated, inefficient and unsustainable transportation system, we propose a humble and non-exhaustive interpretation of the Referendum questions, providing the reader with some explications on why to vote against, or for the liberalization. Let us first start with an analysis of the transportation system and the history of its regulation.


  1. Fragmentation, Inefficiency, and Governance Crisis: the state of transportation services in Rome, Italy

The questions of governance, political stability, and availability of resources are key factors in the development of a functioning transportation network. When it comes to such factors, the City of Rome has experienced 20 years of bad management, waste of resources, and unstable governance.

The “Agenzia Trasporti Autoferrotranviari Comune Roma” (ATAC), recently declared bankrupt, plays a central role in the public local transportation system of the City as it manages, overlooks and plans the transportation services. During the process of transformation of the transportation services in 2010, the City introduced two new actors: the “Agenzia Roma Servizi per la Mobilità S.r.l.” (Mobility Agency), in charge of managing and planning sustainable mobility services, and “Patrimonio S.r.l” created to manage investment processes. Before such a division, the transportation companies have witnessed many transformations. The year 2000 saw the introduction of two entities, Trambus and Met.Ro, which respectively managed the tram system and the underground system, with Atac acting as an overarching supervising institution. Moreover, for the first time, the peripheral lines were contracted to a private company, Tevere Tpl (now Roma Tpl). However, such an arrangement proved to be nonfunctional and the three entities registered losses. The 2010 reform mentioned above was introduced by center-right Mayor Alemanno who decided to re-incorporate all of the different entities and their respective deficits back into ATAC.

It is during the Alemanno administration that the famous “Parentopoli” scandal comes to the surface. Corruption scandals, mismanagement and continuous changes in the governance model brought about the crisis of Atac and its bankruptcy; we argue that these factors and a constant transformation of the system in term of players, roles, regulations, and relations produced the suboptimal infrastructural investment that led to the inefficient situation we find ourselves in today.

Moreover, this political crisis revealed the financial origins of such a failure: while Atac receives 556 millions of euros of subsidies by the City of Rome every year, it spends an equal amount of money to pay its employees (12 thousand people) and it cashes in only half of this cost from ticket fees. On top of this, Atac is supposed to invest in maintenance and renewal costs. The result is a debt of 1.3 billion euros accumulated in the last 15 years.

Having mentioned the governance and clientelism issues of the public transportation system, the mobility behavior and modal shares of Rome’s inhabitants come as no surprise. The governance crisis has resulted in a malfunctioning and fragmented transportation offer, which in turn produces unsustainable outcomes when it comes to the mobility behaviors of Rome’s citizens. With almost 3 million inhabitants, the Metropolitan City of Rome holds the first place as far as the use of private transportation is concerned among the biggest cities in Europe, with a stunning 50 % of modal share for car transportation, that contributes to the severe problem of congestion. As the picture below shows, the modal shares have only slightly changed between 2009 and 2015. Car and scooters represent the preferred modes of transportation, with 840 vehicles every 1000 inhabitants and around 500 000 motorcycles.

Data from the Mobility Agency of Rome. Comparison between modal shares in 2009, 2012 and 2015:

The use of private modes of transportation has an evident impact on the environment. Legambiente data show Rome and other Italian cities in the top 5 of European city for the highest number of particles (pm10 and pm2,5) released in the air. The health risks for such transportation behavior are therefore enormous.

Moreover, if time spent commuting is calculated as a cost, Rome’s transportation failures result in important economic hindrances. Indeed, the City of Rome only operates 3 metro lines that poorly cover the great city extension. The resulting public transportation system is mainly made up of bus lines, trams, and regional trains. Rome’s inhabitant’s average commute is 79 minutes long. In Paris, it is 64 minutes long. With high traffic and congestion, bus lines are not a reliable form of transportation. Moovit calculates that people wait 20 minutes on average at bus stops and metro stations in Rome, compared to a wait of 12 minutes in Paris and 13 minutes in London. These statistics all highlight the problematic reality of Rome’s transportation system today. While a reliance on private forms of transportation produces environmental and health risks, the inefficiency of the public transportation network also produces a divided city that fails to benefit from a more integrated and time effective mobility.

  1. How to make public transportation more efficient? What governance model to implement for Rome’s urban mobility?

These questions are at the origin of the consultative referendum scheduled to take place on November 11. On the one hand, the Radical Party – organized in the “Mobilitiamo Roma” committee, gathered the signatures to raise a public referendum pushing for a liberalization of the public transportation system. On the other hand, both Rome’s M5S government and some citizens committees like “Mejo de NO” argue that liberalization should not be seen as the ultimate solution to an infrastructural problem like that of the City of Rome.

Certainly, a crucial element to augment the efficiency of the system is a better coordination between the mobility provider and contractor, that is the city administration. Specifically, the referendum expresses the necessity to govern a company which, being ‘too big to fail’ has been managed irresponsibly in the last two decades relying on public money to refund its enormous debt.

After the company declared bankrupt, the city administration defined a plan to freeze the debt and make Atac reflourish through an economic reentry plan, which according to the current estimates would need at least 20 years to succeed. Should the NO win the referendum, the new plan that poses new measures to contrast fare evasion and new investment at its center would be the main road to follow, mayor Raggi said.

In the past weeks, we interviewed some representatives of the two sides, one from the “Mejo de NO” committee, and one from “Mobilitiamo Roma”. Based on their positions, and on our own background research on the topic, we hereby present and analyze the main points from their two opposing arguments. The two sides are presented firstly, by pointing the way they approach the issue of mobility, then by expressing their proposed solution.


How the “Mobilitiamo Roma” frames the issue

Framing the problem:

-Governance inefficiency and lack of monitoring over the service provider created the current situation. Contracts for mobility provision and maintenance exist without being respected in their more essential contractual agreements.

-The public monopoly in Rome does not create conditions and incentives for the service to be rendered efficiently to citizens. The economic losses have been systematically refunded with public money without an actual system of sanctions.

-Being dependent on one entity, Atac, the city has no contractual power to enforce an efficient provision. It is too late, Atac cannot be saved because the debt is too high. Paying off the debt would limit investments in future years.

-Liberalization doesn’t mean privatization. Opening for a call for tenders is required by the law and it allows the system and the actors involved to be more efficient thanks to competition. It is important to overcome the monopoly.

Framing a solution

-Liberalization doesn’t mean privatization, but a new economic approach. It would assign the provision to the market in a competitive framework where the provider offering the best deal would operate. A public actor like ATM or Ferrovie Dello Stato might win the bid in what would become a sort of Public-public Partnership (PUP).

-The referendum would allow a new relationship between contractor and provider: externalizing the management of the service. The city administration would maintain the property, the ability to programme lines and service expansion, and fare tariffs while exercising a role of supervision on the concessionaire. The workers would be reintegrated by the new operator.

-Increase in accountability, separating ownership and management would contribute to a system where incentives and sanctions can be set according to standard provision achievements. This would downsize the risk of a company blackmailing the city administration, a new contractual equilibrium would then be reached.


How the “Mejodeno” committee frames the issue

Framing the problem:

-The cause of transport inefficiency has to be found within the infrastructural network. Thus, changing the way service is entrusted does not tackle the roots of the problem. Rome suffers from a lack of infrastructural investment and any service provider, be it public or private, will never be able to set up a satisfactory transportation service without a reform and an upgrade in the infrastructures.

– Today, around 30% of the lines has already been liberalized. The liberalized TPL quota is an evidence of how liberalization does not make the service more efficient and accountable. Workers of TPL have experienced delays in payments and the management of the service continues to be inefficient. Why? Because the problem is the infrastructure, not the service provider.

-The problem relies on a disproportion of surface bus lines and iron lines. The Mobility provision in Rome relies on economy of scale principle, the bigger the network the more efficient until a threshold that has not to be overcome. A network that is too big means diseconomy of scale and economic losses. On the one hand Rome has a disproportionate bus system generating lost and low performances, whereas, on the other hand, the scarcity of Tram and Metro lines doesn’t express the full economic potential performance.

Framing a solution:

-Adapting the infrastructural network to European standard by following the already existing Master Plan, “Piano regolatore per il traffico urbano” (PGTU), through the development of iron lines, what is called “cura del ferro”.

-There is a framing misconception done by the Radical Party, demonizing the public sector and depicting the private option as the most efficient solution for public service delivery. Keeping an in-house management, that is, a concession of the service to a public company owned by the City, the City of Rome can fully control the public transportation system, and thus better invest in the infrastructure.   users and citizens to keep the City accountable. With a private concessionaire, this accountability becomes much weaker.

-In-house management is the model used by most cities in Europe. As such, it shouldn’t be considered as the cause of the failure of Rome’s transportation service, but it should be reformed and improved based on the lessons learned from the years of bad management and lack of investments.



This short article presents some of the issues at stake when it comes to the provision of a public service like public transportation. Moreover, it gives an overview of the transportation crisis suffered by the City of Rome in recent years.

Due to the limited space and to limited time, the aim of this article was not to provide a state of the art overview on the issue of transportation governance and regulation, nor to give any best practice or ultimate solution to Rome’s transport crisis. We rather hoped to shine some light on the Roman case and report the positions of the main stakeholders in the referendum of November 11.   

As previously mentioned, a malfunctioning urban mobility network has a negative impact on both the environment and economic prosperity of the City, as well as the health of Rome’s inhabitants. In today’s global metropolises, mass public transportation as well as alternative transportation solutions are fundamental to overcome the congestion and pollution problems caused by private means of transportation like cars and scooters.  

The Roman example shows the ‘tragedy’ of a not respected regulatory framework in the provision of a networked service such as transportation. The interconnectivity of the mobility system within the city functioning has a potential cascade effects and repercussions on the entire society in case of crisis. It becomes then useful to think of urban mobility in a more relational way with the other realms of the city organism. An integrated and multidisciplinary governance approach to urban mobility is essential in order to create a network that connects people, overcomes urban segregation and boosts economic development in all of the Roman neighborhoods.  

It is important to note, that in the case of public utility provision there is no “one size fits all” solution to regulatory and governance schemes. Contextual factors, such as the specificities of people’s commutes, geographical features like Rome’s great extension, and political and economical peculiarities of the city matter. Whether the referendum will express a Yes or No to liberalize the market, the future development of the transportation system has to cope with these contextual factors to become a virtuous example.



Marco Di Giulio, Maria Tullia Galanti. “Varieties of regulation? Implementing the regional governance of local utilities in Italy”, Network Industries Quarterl

“Facts and usage statistics about public transit in Roma e Lazio, Italy”, Moovit zio-

Alberto Fiorillo, Mirko Laurenti, Alessia Albini, Lorenzo Bono, Mario Miglio, Chiara Wolter “Ecosistema Urbano. Rapporto sulle performance ambientali delle città”. Legambiente, 2017

Paolo Canonico, Ernesto De Nito, Gianluigi Mangia, Lorenzo Mercurio, Mario Pezzillo Iacono. “Modelli di governance nei servizi pubblici: il trasporto pubblico locale in Italia”. Impresa Progetto Electronic Journal of Management , n. 1, 2012

“Il Trasporto Pubblico Locale a Roma”. City of Rome , Ragioneria Generale – I Direzione “Sistemi informativi di pianificazione e controllo finanziario” – U.O. Statistica, 2015

“Trasporti, rapporto Moovit: Roma è la capitale con i tempi d’attesa più lunghi” La Repubblica, 2016 _con_i_tempi_d_attesa_piu_lunghi-154447150/

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IAIONE, CHRISTIAN “La regolazione del trasporto pubblico locale. Bus e taxi alla fermata delle liberalizzazioni.”pp. XIV-258, Jovene Editore, 2008


The impact of universities on society: Working on neighborhood commons in San José, Costa Rica

The impact of universities on society: Working on neighborhood commons in San José, Costa Rica

Versión en español a continuación

As part of the LabGov research and extension program for Costa Rica, the Architecture students of the Universidad Latina continue to apply the concepts of common goods to the city, collaborating with the community of the Cedros neighborhood, in San Pedro de Montes de Oca, an area of the capital of Costa Rica, San José.

The process that was carried out in the first months of 2018 began with the realization of an analysis of the community, followed by the setting of objectives and schedule of activities to be carried out as a laboratory and as workshops. The project could be carried out thanks to the help of the community and also of the Scouts group in the area. Starting the investigation, surveys and talks were conducted in order to have more accurate information to project the needs. The best option was to involve the community around the coexistence space that belongs to it and is part of their daily routine: the neighborhood park and the community hall.

As a result of the activities carried out, certain problems were determined in the community, specifically in the sector near the Community Hall and the School of Cedars, which, indeed, as had been observed in the first stage, are the areas most used by the neighbors.

Based on the LabGov methodology, the research group applied the Co-city protocol: knowing, mapping, practicing, prototyping, testing and modeling. In order to achieve a shared city, it was proposed from the beginning to promote in the community the appropriation of public space through specific interventions and achievable with short-term actions that did not come exclusively from the group of researchers, but from the members of the community itself. In this way it was concluded to carry out an intervention with urban furniture, since fundamentally public areas only lend themselves to certain defined uses (field/court sports and indoor congregation activities) and lack comfortable and simple facilities to sit, rest and socialize in the outdoors.


An initial challenge, before starting any project, was to make the community aware of what the common goods are. And how this information could be transmitted in a way that was co-constructed among all.

The commons are resources and networks that sustain life, and although their legal possession may be of a certain group or community, or an individual, they are used by all and of all is the benefit.

Taking into account that every resource becomes common through a process of work and regulation, we wanted to focus on finding and recognizing the Common Goods with the Cedros Community, as well as later introducing a set of new goods to take care of and reproduce: the urban furniture produced with recycled pallets as the main material, which were implemented according to the needs of the community.

The common goods, in addition to achieving citizen participation and creating urban awareness, also help to create an environment of collaboration and equality: as it is related in Peter Linebaugh’s book about “El Manifiesto de la Carta Magna” and the Forest Charter, for a long time, humanity has sought to create a more equitable society, through documents created so that common goods are preserved and protected. Based on these texts it has been shown how this legacy has remained over the years and it is our obligation as citizens to watch over the common goods, since being shared brings benefits for all. Likewise, not only should they be preserved, but improved with the help of a community structure that, in mutual agreement, fosters good communication and teamwork. With this, goods can be renewed over time and could be used by our society and inherited by future generations [1].

On the other hand, as clarified in the book “La Carta de los Comunes”, common goods are not only translated into public space or, in the case of our intervention, in urban furniture, but they go much further, contemplating the goods to which we all have access in our daily life, such as water, air and other natural elements. It is from these fundamental commons that awareness must arise for responsible use. In other words, we cannot limit ourselves to taking care of the benches of our park, if our rivers and seas are full of garbage. For this reason we have sought ways to encourage the recognition of different types of common goods by the young population of the community, involving them in the first person in the care of these goods; so that in a broader way they focus on taking care not only of the community’s assets, but also beyond, an heritage such as water [2].


The decision about the prototype to be proposed was taken after making several field visits and noting that the large green areas had a space dedicated to a small playground and a court. However these are not used due to various problems, among them, the easiest solution was to solve the absence of adequate equipment for living areas. Therefore, it was decided to create functional and modular furniture that could later be replicated by people, remaining as a prototype model that the community could build alone, when it needed more furniture. Trying to create a quiet, cozy and safe space to share with the children, this also required garbage dumps, to have a space free of waste and at the same time educate the recycling.


Within the activities programmed to achieve this project, the workshop was aimed at young people between the ages of 9 and 16. This got a very positive response from them after working on the book quoted above from the “La Carta de los Comunes” [2]. With this, they were able to understand the importance of greater participation and allowed to spring up in them a sincere interest for the care of our goods.


In the development of this project, a positive response was observed from the members of the community to get involved in decision-making. This was proven in the workshops held, such as the furniture-manufacturing workshop, in which the young people were willing to collaborate and thus they were even more incentivized to preserve these goods, since they were involved in the design process as well as manufacturing, manifesting feelings of appropriation on his part.

This type of activities developed together with the neighbors, generate a tangible impact on the communities, since that attitude arouses the interest of other nearby communities, making it replicate and have an impact at the country level, and at a global level as part of the LabGov program, which aims to be a network of local efforts as the ultimate goal of these actions.

As an added value, in the case of this urban laboratory in the Community of Cedros, it was intended from the beginning to strengthen and promote self-management and not the resolution of a specific problem by external actors. Therefore, the necessary tools were provided for any citizen to be able to repeat or adapt the models proposed in this prototype, through an open technical manual and editable 3D files, accessible to anyone who requires it, within the framework of the Creative Commons concept.

It is very important for urban life to achieve coexistence among its citizens through the use of public spaces that the city offers us. However, the urban space by itself does not work, because it needs to be thought for and by the citizens, used and cared for by them in a continuous and organic way. For this reason, academic interventions are not an achievement but a stimulus to revitalize these spaces as social nodes.

In Costa Rica, despite the renowned democratic culture, people still need to be empowered on the subject of civic rights and duties, and to become active and participatory members of the city’s spaces [3]. This is achieved through the management, methodologies and tools of citizen participation, which give a reason of real use to those spaces. The development of this management was done in coordination between the Creative Campus of the Latina University of Costa Rica, the Cedros Integral Development Association of Montes de Oca and Plataforma de Integración Ciudadana, thanks to the participation of the community and organized groups as the Guides and Scouts of Costa Rica.

The LabGov program of Costa Rica seeks to involve the students of urban design courses in a process of research and extension in order to experience and understand processes of innovation in urban design, not limited to the drawing stage but to processes of co-design management. This not only in order to achieve a broad citizen participation and create an urban awareness of care and maintenance of the urban commons, but also to understand the students as qualitative researchers and community stakeholders, which can – and should – be involved in social projects.


1 Linebaugh, P. (2013). El Manifiesto de la Carta Magna, Comunes y libertades para el pueblo. Madrid: Traficantes de Sueños.

2 (2011). La Carta de los Comunes, Para el cuidado y disfrute de lo que todos es. Madrid: Traficantes de Sueños.

3 PNUD. 2013. Informe Nacional sobre Desarrollo Humano 2013, Aprendiendo a vivir juntos: Convivencia y desarrollo humano en Costa Rica. San José, C.R.: Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo – PNUD Costa Rica, p. 233-235.




Como parte del programa de investigación y extensión LabGov para Costa Rica, los estudiantes de Arquitectura de la Universidad Latina continúan aplicando los conceptos de bienes comunes a la ciudad, colaborando con la comunidad del barrio Cedros, en San Pedro de Montes de Oca, una área de la capital de Costa Rica, San José.

El proceso que se llevó a cabo en los primeros meses del 2018 comenzó con la realización de un análisis de la comunidad, seguido por el planteamiento de objetivos y cronograma de actividades a llevar a cabo como laboratorio y como talleres. El proyecto pudo realizarse gracias a la ayuda de la comunidad y también del grupo Scouts de la zona. Dando comienzo a la investigación se realizaron encuestas y charlas con el fin de tener información más acertada para proyectar las necesidades. La mejor opción era involucrar a la comunidad alrededor del espacio de convivencia que le pertenece y es parte de su rutina diaria: el parque barrial y el salón comunal.

Como resultado de las actividades realizadas, se determinaron ciertos problemas en la comunidad, específicamente en el sector cercano al Salón Comunal y a la Escuela de Cedros, que, efectivamente como se había observado en la primera etapa, son las zonas más utilizadas por los vecinos.

Basándose en la metodología del LabGov el grupo de investigación aplicó el protocolo Co-ciudad: saber, mapear, practicar, prototipar, probar y modelar. Con el fin de lograr una ciudad compartida, se planteó desde el inicio promover en la comunidad la apropiación del espacio público por medio de intervenciones puntuales y alcanzables con acciones a corto plazo que no vinieran exclusivamente del grupo de investigadores, sino de los miembros de la comunidad misma. De esta manera se concluyó realizar una intervención con mobiliario urbano, ya que fundamentalmente las áreas públicas no se prestan más que a ciertos usos definidos (deportes en cancha y actividades de congregación bajo techo) y carecen de instalaciones comodas y simples para sentarse, estar, descansar y relacionarse en los exteriores.


La decisión acerca del prototipo que se quería proponer fue tomada luego de realizar varias visitas de campo y notar que las amplias zonas verdes, contaban con un espacio dedicado a un pequeño parque infantil y una cancha, sin embargo no son aprovechados debido a diversos problemas, entre ellos, el de más fácil solución, era resolver la ausencia de un equipo adecuado para zonas de estar. Por lo tanto, se decidió crear un mobiliario funcional y modular que pudiera posteriormente ser replicado por las personas, quedando como un prototipo modelo que la comunidad pudiera construir sola, quando esta necesitara más mobiliario. Tratando de crear un espacio tranquilo, acogedor y seguro para compartir con los niños, se requerían también basureros, para contar con un espacio libre de desechos y que al mismo tiempo educara al reciclaje.


Un desafío inicial, antes de comenzar cualquier proyecto, era hacer que la comunidad conociera cuáles son los bienes comunes. Y, sobre todo, cómo podría transmitirse esta información de una manera que fuera co-construida entre todos.

Los bienes comunes son recursos y redes que sostienen la vida, y aunque su posesión legal puede ser de un cierto grupo o comunidad, o de un individuo, son utilizados por todos y de todos es el beneficio.

Tomando en cuenta de que todo recurso se convierte en común a través de un proceso de trabajo y reglamentación, se quiso dar enfoque en buscar y reconocer los Bienes Comunes con la Comunidad de Cedros, así como posteriormente introducir un conjunto de nuevos bienes que cuidar y reproducir: el mobiliario urbano producido con pallets reciclados como material principal, los cuales fueron implementados según las necesidades de la comunidad.

Los bienes comunes, además de lograr una participación ciudadana y crear conciencia urbana, también ayudan a crear un ambiente de colaboración e igualdad: como se relata en el libro del Peter Linebaugh acerca de “Manifiesto de la Carta Magna” y la Carta del Bosque, ya hace mucho tiempo la humanidad ha buscado generar una sociedad más equitativa, a través de documentos creados para que los bienes comunes fueran preservados y protegidos. Con base en estos textos se ha mostrado como ese legado ha permanecido a través de los años y es nuestra obligación como ciudadanos velar por los bienes comunes, ya que siendo compartidos traen beneficios para todos. De igual manera no sólo se deben de preservar, sino mejorar con ayuda de una estructura comunitaria que, estando en mutuo acuerdo, fomente una buena comunicación y trabajo en equipo. Con ello los bienes pueden ir renovándose con el tiempo y podrían ser utilizados por nuestra sociedad y heredados por las generaciones futuras (Linebaugh, 2008).

Por otro lado, como se aclara en el libro “La carta de los Comunes”, los bienes comunes no solo se traducen en espacio público o, en el caso de nuestra intervención, en mobiliario urbano, si no que van mucho más allá, contemplando los bienes a los que todos tenemos acceso en nuestra vida cotidiana, como lo son el agua, el aire y demás elementos naturales. Es de estos bienes comunes fundamentales que debe surgir la concientización para su uso responsable. Es decir no podemos limitarnos a cuidar las bancas de nuestro parque, si nuestros ríos y mares están llenos de basura. Por esta razón hemos buscado la manera de incentivar el reconocimiento de diferentes tipos de bienes comunes por parte de la población joven de la comunidad, involucrandoles en primera persona en el cuido de estos bienes; para que de una manera más amplia se enfocaran en cuidar no sólo los bienes de la comunidad, si no más allá, un bien de la humanidad como lo es el agua (, 2011).


Dentro de las actividades programadas para lograr este proyecto, el taller fue dirigido a jóvenes de edades entre los 9 y los 16 años. Esto obtuvo una respuesta muy positiva por parte de ellos luego de trabajar en el libro citado anteriormente de la “Carta de los Comunes”. Con esto se logró que ellos entendieran la importancia de una mayor participación y permitió que brotara en ellos, un interés sincero por el cuido de nuestros bienes.


En el desarrollo de este proyecto se observó una respuesta positiva de los miembros de la comunidad para involucrarse en la toma de decisiones. Esto se comprobó en los talleres realizados, como el taller de la fabricación del mobiliario, en el que los jóvenes se mostraron anuentes a colaborar y así se logró aun más incentivar el interés por preservar estos bienes, pues estuvieron involucrados en el proceso tanto de diseño así como el de manufactura, manifestando sentimientos de apropiación de su parte.

Este tipo de actividades desarrolladas en conjunto con los vecinos, generan un impacto tangible en las comunidades, ya que esa actitud suscita interés de otras comunidades cercanas, haciendo que se replique y pueda tener un impacto a nivel de país, y a nivel mundial como parte del programa LabGov, el cual plantea ser una red de esfuerzos locales como el objetivo final de estas acciones.

 Como valor agregado, en el caso de este laboratorio urbano en la Comunidad de Cedros, se pretendió desde el inicio fortalecer y promover la autogestión y no la resolución de un problema puntual por parte de actores externos. Por lo tanto se brindaron las herramientas necesarias para que cualquier ciudadano fuera capaz de repetir o adaptar los modelos propuestos en este prototipo, mediante un manual técnico que fue diseñado para ser “open” y archivos 3D editables, accesibles para toda persona que lo requiera, en el marco del concepto Creative Commons.

Es de suma importancia para la vida urbana lograr la convivencia entre sus ciudadanos mediante el aprovechamiento de los espacios públicos que nos brinda la ciudad. Sin embargo el espacio urbano por sí solo no funciona, pues necesita ser pensado para y por los ciudadanos, usado y cuidado por ellos mismos de forma continua y organica. Por esta razón las intervenciones académicas no son un logro si no un estímulo a revitalizar dichos espacios como nodos sociales.

En Costa Rica, a pesar de la renombrada cultura democrática, las personas todavía se deben empoderar en el tema de derechos y deberes civicos, y lograr ser miembros partícipes y activos de los espacios de la ciudad. Esto se logra mediante la gestión, metodologías y herramientas de participación ciudadana, que den una razón de uso real a dichos espacios. El desarrollo de esta gestión se realizó en coordinación entre el Campus Creativo de la Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, la Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Cedros de Montes de Oca y la Plataforma de Integración Ciudadana, gracias a la participación de la comunidad y de grupos organizados como los Guías y Scouts de Costa Rica.

El programa LabGov de Costa Rica busca involucrar los estudiantes de los cursos de Diseño Urbano en un proceso de investigación y extensión con el fin de experimentar y entender procesos innovativos de diseño urbano, no limitados al dibujo sino a los procesos de gestión participada del diseño. Esto no sólo con el fin de lograr una amplia participación ciudadana y crear una conciencia urbana de cuido y mantenimiento de los Bienes Comunes Urbanos, sino además entender a los estudiantes como investigadores cualitativos y actores integrantes de la comunidad, los cuales pueden y deben involucrarse en proyectos sociales.


Linebaugh, P. (2008). Manifestación de la Carta Magna.

Madrilonia.Org. (2011). Carta de los Comunes.

Cultural heritage leading urban futures:  The Horizon 2020 ROCK project

Cultural heritage leading urban futures: The Horizon 2020 ROCK project

“ROCK focuses on historic city centres as extraordinary laboratories to demonstrate how cultural heritage can be a unique and powerful engine of regeneration, sustainable development and economic growth for the whole city”.



32 participants from 13 countries[1], among which 10 cities, 7 Universities, 3 networks of enterprises, 2 networks of cities, a foundation, a charity, companies and development agencies. This is the large and heterogenous consortium, coordinated by the Municipality of Bologna, leading the ROCK project: Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural heritage in creative and knowledge cities. The project has received 9,837,585€ of EU funding under the Horizon 2020 topic “Cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable growth” (SC5-21-2016-2017).

The main objective is to support three Replicator Cities (Bologna, Lisbon and Skopje) − that are already experimenting urban innovation processes − in the transformation of historic city centres areas affected by social problems and physical decay, following the example of seven Role Model cities experiencing a knowledge-based economy (Athens, Cluj-Napoca, Eindhoven, Liverpool, Lyon, Turin and Vilnius).

The underpinning idea is to develop a collaborative and circular approach through which implement successful heritage-led regeneration models and test their replicability. The project is organised around four complementary phases: Knowledge Inventory (thanks to an open knowledge portfolio and atlas); Sharing & Modelling through mentoring visits and work-shadowing; Piloting & Demonstration, by developing a shared model of local development resulting in integrated management plans; fourthly, the assessment ad upscaling phase.

The project comprises Local Actions in the replicator cities related to the organizational and technological innovation domains, Transversal Actions related to the social innovation domain, and Piloting Actions including implementation activities also in Role Model Cities. The entire process is facilitated by a Multi-actor Advisory Board, made up of seven experts, serving as a consulting board for the project implementation, and by a Regional Board, made up of six representatives of participating Regions, fostering collaboration and a structured cooperation among the different regional bodies.

A range of tools, tested in Bologna, Lisbon and Skopje, supports the development of the project activities, such as a web platform for networking and mentoring, a multiplatform app related to cultural heritage experiences, integrated cultural heritage analytics, large crowd monitoring tools, environmental control monitoring as well as creative industry green tools.

In each replicator city the project focuses on the regeneration and sustainable development of different areas, with the support of three Living Labs, set up for the specific purpose of facilitating co-creation processes. In Skopje, the aim is to transform an historical area – comprising a medieval fortress, the Old Bazaar area and the Jewish quarter − into a knowledge, culture and technology-driven hub.

The Skopje Urban Living Lab “SkULLab” has been established especially for the development of creative industries and technology-driven models involving the local communities of the Old Bazaar area, also in order to reverse the decline of artisans.

In Bologna, the aim is to transform the university area located in the historical city-centre into a sustainable cultural and creative district; for that purpose, on December 2017 the Living Lab “U-Lab” was launched, already organising open meetings for stakeholders and a call for proposals to select and fund projects that involve local communities in the transformative visions of the area.

In Lisbon, the focus is on the innovative re-use of historical buildings and spaces – namely the Olisipo Archaeological area in Santa Maria Maior District, Tagus River and Beato zone (Marvila) – by attracting creative industries talents and developing ICT infrastructure. An important role is played by the “LLL” Lisbon Living Lab, raising awareness of local communities and stakeholders about their heritage, in order to develop participatory projects and processes and to support start-up actions. In 2018 LLL has already promoted a range of activities like exhibitions, an international culture forum, a hackathon, a city-branding workshop, the “Marvila days” and the “Bibliogamers” (a collaborative technology game-based event).

The project includes a tight schedule of project meetings and events: on the 17th of October 2018, the ROCK Cities Session in Lisbon; on the 19th the “Urban centers. Acting Upon or With Cities?” meeting, organised by the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon in partnership with the Centro de Informação Urbana de Lisboa, dealing with the role of urban centers in participatory governance and cultural heritage-led regeneration; from the 22nd of October to the 23rd the ROCK Seminar on “Innovative City Branding” in Turin, including a workshop and a short open conference; from the 25th of October to the 26th, the ROCK Hackathon 2018 in Lisbon, a two day co-creation marathon on “Eco-entrepreneurship, cities and sustainable business innovation for a green & inclusive Lisboa”.

An innovative and inspiring project, with huge potential, to be followed closely!


[1]                Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Portugal, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Germany, Belgium, France.