1700 opportunities

1700 opportunities

How many times did happen to you to be in a little station of a little town, with almost nobody around, in the Italian countryside in the middle of nowhere? It seems quite an unlikely scenario, in some fancy movie where the protagonists have just five euros, a backpack and one cigarette left, trying to get home. Unfortunately, this could potentially be the destiny reserved to everyone, who finds him/herself in one of the 1700 abandoned little stations in Italy.

The country of the small towns, always hold up as far away from technological advances, seems now to have too many technological tools within medium and little train stations. Just for briefly recap what happened: the automation of the controls and their “out station” activation in a single center has imposed a different allocation of human resources. This is a typical case of how the development and upgrading of technology can undermine and revolutionize the organization of pre-existing work. The main output of the so-called C.T.C. (Centralized Traffic Control system) on the management of human resources, was precisely to replace personnel who served in circulation stations.

Thanks to the technological innovation, medium and little stations are free from duties purely related to the railway, which became obsolete. They are now concentrated in few locations and carried out by a few men, with the help of computers. However, the new management carried out by more technological assets, indeed, does not mean that the stations have to remain without rail services, or that the lines have to be deleted, or that the railway stations have to be closed. These stations have still their traditional value of usage for the community: daily trains continue to arrive and departure again, the passengers continue to get on and off the trains, and to attend in the waiting halls, or to use the shelters.

This poses new management problems of the vast real estate assets that the Ferrovie dello Stato (the Italian State Railway Agency) have to deal with. As already said the unstaffed stations are 1700 considering all the national territory.

On the one hand, the giant costs of maintaining small stations all around Italy emerges, with all that this implies for the State. One the other hand, the traditional value of each station has to be considered with its functions for the community that everyday lives the station.

When the resources are lacking but at list, some assets are available, there come in place energies and ideas. More than ever, the Kennedy’s way to say: “don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, seems to be the right path to follow.

This is the reason of the agreement signed by the Ferrovie dello Stato and CSVnet – National Coordination Centers for Voluntary Services (March 14th 2013) – for developing innovative measures of social support of the whole country. An action that is part of a Memorandum of UnderstandingsUs with some major associations (CSVnet, Italian Association for Responsible Tourism, Legambiente and Legacoopsociali) and through which the Ferrovie dello Stato intends to make an innovative system of management of unused real estate assets at National and European level.

The idea is to give the disused spaces to the ones who would take care of them, in particular to volunteers’ associations, which have the right attitude and the need to have spaces where to operate with their social and communitarian projects. The agreement indeed, is about making these spaces available for meetings and promotion of volunteering. That is not all. The formula used to revitalize these areas is that of the contracts in free loan with a duration of 5 to 9 years: municipalities, local authorities and non-profit associations can use the stations to accommodate social activities, institutions, associations, and to initiate projects. This new way of management has a positive impact on the territory and the quality of the stations themselves. Thanks to the sale of loan, the community is enriched with service facilities and this guarantees at the same time positive effects in terms of quality and decor of the stations.

Some examples of the implementation of this project date back to September 2014 and are continuously taking place. Lazzaro di Motta San Giovanni (Rc), location assigned to the Association “InHoltre“, will host a center with educational and recreational workshops for children with disabilities. At Condofuri (Rc), the Association “Europa Unita” will organize daily activities of land conservation. At Maddaloni (Ce), assigned to the CSV of Caserta, it will be promoted voluntary activities on the territory. At the station of Pineto (Te), assigned to “non-profit Pros Pineto“, it will implement the social and health service transport, assistance and delivery of drugs at home in the province of Teramo. At Eboli (Sa), for example, inside the building of the former cargo warehouse it was opened a rehearsal room for local bands.

These are just few of the stories that are bringing back to life the Italian railway stations. What is important to understand it is that in a situation of decline there might be an opportunity. Opportunities, as we saw, do not have costs. Instead, they have a variety of unexplored way of collaboration.

Re-designing and communicating governance: next LabGov workshop is coming!

Re-designing and communicating governance: next LabGov workshop is coming!


Next Friday and Saturday, March the 20th and the 21st LUISS School of Government will host the second LabGov workshop.

After a virtuous beginning with Ernesto Belisario and the Open Data world, LabGov is proud to invite you to a workshop relating to the design and the communication of governance.

This two-day meeting will be organised in the following steps:

Friday, March the 20th: At 4:00 PM, in Room AT03 at Viale Romania, 32 – Rome – Dino Amenduni – social media Manager for Proforma – will start the workshop by introducing communicating skills to create governance of commons.

Saturday, March the 21st: starting at 9:00 AM, in the same room, Daniela Selloni – designer of collaborating services and social innovation – will describe designing techniques for the creation – and management – of urban commons.

Here is the program:

20- 21 marzo


Disegnare e comunicare la governance: il prossimo workshop di LabGov sta arrivando!

Venerdì 20 e sabato 21 marzo l’Università LUISS ospiterà il secondo workshop di LabGov.

Dopo l’interessante inizio con Ernesto Belisario e il mondo degli open data, LabGov è lieto di invitarvi all’incontro per Disegnare e Comunicare la governance.

Per questa settimana, Dino Amenduni – comunicatore politico e responsabile social media di Proforma – e Daniela Selloni – service designer e ricercatrice – ci accomoagneranno nella comprensione della gestione della governance dei beni comuni urbani.

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

Schermata 2014-12-18 alle 19.06.26

The City of Bologna has just adopted the translation prepared by 2013/2014 LabGov interns as the official English version of the Bologna Regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons. The official English version of the Regulation is available here.

LabGov interns participated actively to “La città come bene comune” (i.e. “The city as a commons“) project in Bologna, carrying out research activities, training programs and co-design sessions. One of LabGov strategists, Christian Iaione, was also a key member of the working group which drafted the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani” of the Comune di Bologna.

According to the regulation active citizens (i.e. social innovators, entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and knowledge institutions willing to work in the general interest) can enter into a co-design process with the city leading to the signing of a “patto di collaborazione per la cura o rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani“. Urban commons are mainly public spaces, urban green spaces and abandoned buildings or areas.

Using the institutional technology of public collaboration (i.e.co-progettazione” or “amministrazione condivisa“) Italian cities and communities can transplant Elinor Ostrom‘s idea of “governance dei beni comuni” (i.e. “governance of the commons”) in urban contexts, as Sheila Foster has already theorized.

The regulation is at the same time a form of social innovation enabling tool and fosters the birth of collaborative economy or sharing economy ventures. Indeed the regulation has dedicated specific articles to “innovazione sociale e servizi collaborativi“, “creatività urbana” and “innovazione digitale“. As a matter of fact social innovation and collaborative services, urban creativity, digital innovation  must be the centerpiece of a “sharing city” or “collaborative city“, which is by default a commons-oriented city and therefore a co-city.

Last, “public collaboration” is centered upon the use of bottom-up or collaborative “nudge” or “nudging” techniques  and “service design” techniques. Indeed, the regulation strengthens the importance of information/communication tools, training and educational initiatives, facilitation activities, as much as the need for measuring and evaluating the impact of the regulation and collaboration pacts or initiatives activated under the umbrella of the regulation.

Bologna regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

The Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons is part of the “The City as a Commons” project that started in 2011 in Bologna with the support of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna and the City of Bologna. It ultimately led to the adoption of the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani“. LabGov interns prepared and edited the translation of the Bologna Regulation which is now the official version adopted by the City of Bologna (see “Regulation on collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons“).

The Bologna Regulation was drafted after two years of field work and three “urban commons governance labs” run also by LabGov Coordinator, Professor Christian Iaione. The Bologna Regulation is a 30 page regulatory framework outlining how local authorities, citizens and the community at large (SMEs, non profits, knowledge institutions) can manage public and private spaces and assets together. As such, it’s a sort of handbook for civic and public collaboration, and also a new vision for government. It reflects the strong belief that we need a cultural shift in terms of how we think about government, moving away from the Leviathan State or Welfare State toward collaborative or polycentric urban/local governance. This calls for new regulatory and governmental tools, namely public collaborationnudge regulation, and citytelling.

Christian Iaione, participated actively to the design and implementation activities of “La città come bene comune” (i.e.The city as a commons“) project in Bologna. Iaione developed the theoretical fraework, carried out and coordinated the research activities, training programs and co-design sessions and was also one of the most active members on the committee appointed by the Comune di Bologna to draft the regulation.

Iaione has been researching the topic of urban commons for quite a long time, and at some point  realized that the city could actually be interpreted as a collaborative commons. Iaione’s research on urban commons is synthesized in the  “City as a Commons” paper presented at a conference in Utrecht in 2012 and later published on the Indiana University Digital Library of the Commons. Earlier studies were published in Italian as “La città come bene comune” and “Città e beni comuni“.  Iaione had the opportunity to work and develop his academic studies as a research fellow at New York University School of Law. While at NYU he developed the theoretical framework for local public entrepreneurship, which is the basis of the CO-Mantova project and the idea of the city as a commons. His study on the tragedy of urban roads is the prequel of the Bologna experiment and the first conceptualization of urban infrastructure and assets as commons.

The City as a Commons project recently entered a new phase and evolved into the CO-Bologna project. The turning point is the 1st IASC Conference on urban commonsThe City as a Commons“.