After the success of the Smart DevOps workshop organized as part of the Internet Governance Forum Italy 2020 –the event was followed by about 100 listeners on ZOOM, as many on YouTube, as well as an unspecified number on streaming– Stati Generali dell’Innovazione (SGI), Italian partner of Smart-DevOps, has set a broader and more articulated program for the 2021 edition of this initiative, in order to take advantage of the results achieved by the project and exploit them in the future.
Over the past year, SGI continued to examine the topic dealt with in the IGF Italia 2020 workshop “Internet Governance and Digital Twin of the City – Useful lessons from COVID-19”,described in the post available here, on several occasions, including:
- Participation in the 10th Conference of the Association for Humanities and Digital Culture, AIUCD, “DH for society: equality, participation, rights and values in the digital age”, held from 19 to 22 January 2021 in the form virtual, with the extended abstract and the poster “The Urban Digital Twin for aware citizens” https://aiucd2021.labcd.unipi.it/book-of-abstracts/;
- The co-organization of the webinar for the modules “Developing Smart City”, “Role of people in Smart cities” and “Smart Governance and the role of leadership”, as part of the SMARTIES Project, held on March 4, 2021, https://smarties.e-code.sk/it/home-it/;
- The co-organization of the cycle of 7 webinars “GAP – Agile Management of the PA“, https://wise.town/gap-gestione-agile-della-pa-2/, from 25 March to 6 May 2021.
Within the 2021 edition of the IGF Italia, taking a cue from Smart DevOps results about the improvement of competencies for Smart Cities, SGI has aimed at deepening the topics discussed the previous year.
The choice of the topic for the IGF Italy 2021
The training modules of Smart DevOps devoted to the “Digital Twin” and the “Green Smart Cities” themes recall emblematically further areas of digital learning, which integrate the training path of this project and stimulate the need to provide additional new skills for the near future.
Taking into account the topic of the technological evolutions already insight and the cultural changes that they project on our society, also due to the European and national strategies for post-COVID-19 recovery, the needs for new professions have been explored in the field of:
- Geospatial data and technologies, with reference to the Italian standard UNI 11621-5:2018 “Non-regulated professional activities – Professional profiles for ICT – Part 5: Professional profiles relating to geographic information”;
- The products and services made available by Earth Observation Technologies, specifically by the European Copernicus Program, also because of the recent launch of the “Destination Earth” Initiative by the European Commission, with reference to the activities carried out by the National User Forum Copernicus.
Keeping in mind the above framework, SGI has proposed to the Internet Governance Forum Italy 2021 Conference Organizing Committee the workshop “Next Generation Cities and Territories: Skills beyond the Comfort Zone”,
The path designed to create interest around the theme
Once this workshop proposal was approved by the IGF Italy 2021 organizers, together the invited speakers (see below), SGI has scheduled an open meeting to present the workshop programme and create a debate opportunity among experts but even to collect suggestions on the matter by the Italian Smart DevOps stakeholders.
Moreover, three webinars on the Geospatial Revolution and the implications for the processes of smart cities and communities has been also scheduled (held always in October) devoted to the Italian participant to the Smart DevOps specialization courses This initiative aimed to give them an overview of the main topics on the relevance of the GI within smart cities processes and considered by the speakers involved within the IGF Italy 2021 workshop.
The debate over skills beyond the comfort zone has arisen
The webinar together the invited speakers and the Italian Smart DevOps stakeholders was scheduled for October 28th, 2021, within the cycle of SGI Webinars “Thursdays of Innovation Dissemination”. Such an SGI initiative is devoted to the dissemination of innovation in the broadest sense of the term, focused on the gaps to be filled in the paradigm shift towards the Digital Transformation of the productive sectors and of the Society as a whole.
The main subjects shown to the webinar by the invited speakers were:
- The reference to the concept of society 5.0 -a smart society helping to solve social issues rather than merely improving productivity- and the description of the “Smart City” concept transformation, from a technology driven (1.0) to an open innovation ecosystem (4.0)
- Main points that push e-skills and capacity strengthening within the green, resilient and data-driven Next-generation Cities: more sustainable and resilient ecosystems, urban digital twins, 5G-6G. data-driven platforms
- The training needs related to this framework identified by the Smart DevOps project, the methodology and training proposal developed, as well as the results achieved; the Smart Cities Body of Knowledge (SCBOK) has been also presented
- The National User Forum Copernicus committee, as an example of organizational and coordination solution for complex programs, through which to implement actions of accompaniment, information, education, training in the use and experimentation of both new tools and methods, as well as of new operating modes, as required by the European program for the Earth Observation Copernicus
- Spatial knowledge as a tool for the strategic and data-based regional policy and the Geographic Information professional profiles UNI 11621-5:2018 standard
- A critical approach to the digital twin concept applied to the real world: recognition and management of uncertainty, its transformation into an additional tool for real-world knowledge; end-users must be trained to allow them to understand both the positivity and the limitations of the digital twin, convincing them, in particular the PA, to introduce its use in their administrative and decision-making processes and, thus, to accept to exit the “comfort zone” of their world of acquired certainties.
The discussion following the contributions of the speakers was enhanced with comments and suggestions by participants. All such contributions have been an enrichment of the topic, useful in the context of the preparation of the Smart DevOps workshop scheduled within the IGF Italy 2021.
Domenico Natale, a statistician, demographer and computer scientist, has pointed out the importance of rural areas. In this regard, he suggested adding smart land competence needs together with those about smart city ones.
Elena Battaglini, a sociologist and professor of socio-environmental analysis methods and techniques, has recalled that technologies are no longer just artifacts but are now environments, that is, they are nothing else from us, we do not know who interfaces whom. Therefore, it is important to understand what their use implies, for what purpose and what is the direction and meaning to be given to these processes; it must be borne in mind that each stakeholder has his own set of knowledge, of values that he attributes to these processes. This therefore implies identifying shared governance. When it comes to competences, it is necessary to pay attention to meta-competences, that is the ability to know these systems, to be aware of the role we have as stakeholders within these environments and to build shared goals for these processes.
Gianni Manco, who attended the SC Planner specialization course organized by Smart DevOps, confirmed the positive training experience. Such a study program care for filling the need for interdisciplinary culture and soft skills requirements the PA is still lacking for facing the processes smart with the right systemic vision.
Fulvio Ananasso, the first webinar speaker, agreeing with Elena Battaglini has emphasized the need to identify training processes suitable for transferring this approach into digital illiteracy contexts such as rural areas. It means how we can transmit these concepts to large sections of the population, not only to an already involved and motivated target but also to a broader audience of users, who in any case must be involved in the smart cities/lands processes. In this context, innovative training solutions are needed, which give less emphasis on technologies, adopting an informative approach, but focus on the processes that interest the citizen so that one feels involved. Technologists have to focus on which applications citizens need. At the same time, citizens must appreciate the advantages offered by the services provided.
Beatrice Rosi, a digital humanities master’s student, has referred her point of view on the webinar subject, referring to the dissertation she is working on, which concerns Digital Twins. Among various digital twin definitions, focused on applications, life cycle, needs to be satisfied, those on this latter classification have attracted her interest. Urban Digital Twins aim at improving society. What benefits could a Digital Humanities expert make to the development and use of these tools? She is deepening, In particular, the requirements of interfaces. Such a professional could collaborate in identifying intuitive solutions allowing broad user categories involvement, facilitating communication between PAs and citizens, encouraging participation in decision-making processes.
Stefano Rossi, Smart DevOps partner on behalf K-Digitale, added to his previous speech the point of view of an SME company that operates for medium and small local authorities. Providers of “smart” solutions must ask themselves what the goal of the process they will develop is and what impact it could have on the quality of life, compared to the pre-smart city condition. In other words, they must ask themselves how to make users, both PA and citizen, aware of the benefits that can be achieved.
Bernardo De Bernardinis, National Coordinator of the Copernicus Academy, has pointed out that it is necessary to learn a straightforward language to explain what opportunities technology can provide, even by adopting the intuition of perception. He agrees that humanistic culture -the doctrine of knowledge- is a fundamental element, but even in this context, the concepts referred to must be declined in a simple way. The training initiatives launched under the Copernicus Program rely on this: understanding the needs, thus immersing oneself amid users and providing helpful formats to involve them, using their language. The Copernicus User Forum is a prime example: it is a collective context that promotes relations between the public and private sectors. Copernicus Open Schools are another example, training initiatives aimed at specific categories of professionals, such as, for example, operators in the agricultural sector. Participants in these courses find answers to their interests in the context of production processes concerning risks or, again, corporate sustainability.
A paid off effort
Thanks to the path described above and to the interest aroused by the dialogue between the invited speakers and the national Smart DevOps stakeholders who attended the webinar planned to promote the main event -as well as the commitment of all the actors mentioned and their organizations to promote this initiative – the Smart DevOps participation at the IGF Italy 2021 was a success, beyond expectations.
The workshop was followed by about 450 listeners on ZOOM -more than four times greater than last year’s event- as many on YouTube, as well as an unspecified number on streaming and included the following speakers:
- Fulvio Ananasso, president of Stati Generali dell’Innovazione (SGI)
- Stefano Rossi, K-DIGITALE
- Maria Vittoria Castellani, National Copernicus Academy
- Monica Sebillo, president of AM/FM GIS Italia
- Andrea Taramelli, national delegate in the Copernicus Committee
Even this year, Smart DevOps had the opportunity to participate in an event of great national importance, which in this post-pandemic year reached record numbers. Businesses, institutions, universities and third sector joined the initiative, carried out in collaboration with AgID – the National Agency for Digital Agenda.
The IGF Italy 2021 workshop recording is available on YouTube: https://bit.ly/33pOmcd
The recording of the webinar which took place on October 28th is available at YouTube: https://bit.ly/3ELdI1X
 the national initiative within the IGF global debate platform, conducted under the auspices of the United Nations