Digital Participatory Platforms for Urban Regeneration: A Survey of Italian Case Studies

Digital Participatory Platforms for Urban Regeneration: A Survey of Italian Case Studies

Francesca De Filippi (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Cristina Coscia (Politecnico di Torino, Italy) and Grazia Giulia Cocina (Politecnico di Torino, Italy)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2020070103

Abstract

Despite the increase in the globally connected population, there is still a high percentage of European citizens who do not have basic digital skills. In the era of smart cities, the Digital Divide affects the possibility for citizens to participate in public life through the use of ICT tools. To deal with this issue, the European Union promotes strategies to develop e-government tools, such as digital participatory platforms (DPPs), in order to connect citizens with the public administration. The research proposes a survey of Italian DPPs, investigated through a questionnaire, to bring out which strategies have been adopted in relation to participation, social inclusion and digital illiteracy, transparency of data, processes, and user-friendliness of the platform. With regard to these issues, certain elements of success of the DPPs presented are highlighted.
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Introduction

In Europe, 169 million people between 16 and 74 years (approximately 44%) do not have basic digital skills, although the percentage of Internet penetration (Internet use by region, comparing the number of Internet users to total population) in Europe is around 86%, and the demand for information and communications technology specialists is growing fast (European Commission, 2019). This fracture, defined as the Digital Divide, represents a barrier between people and the use of new technologies, considered as a vehicle for information and interaction between citizens and the Public Administration.

Figure 1.

Global Annual Digital Growth 2019 (Source: https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019)

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Figure 2.

Internet use: Regional overview 2019 (Source: https://wearesocial.com/global-digital-report-2019)

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The study of the digital divide must take into account that the sharing of information, possible thanks to ICT, is not only linked to information law but also to the rights of active citizenship since, as Warschauer argues, the digital divide is like a stratification that becomes a continuum based on different degrees of access to information (Warschauer, 2001). This is why it is difficult to decode the fragmentary causes of the digital divide and the use of ICT, both linked to the contexts in which individuals live and grow and to the social, political, economic, and cultural resources they have. Thus, the possibility of access, the place, the frequency, the type and number of activities carried out simultaneously, along with the technical/IT skills and the available resources (physical, cultural, communicative, and relational) become discriminating variables.

Faced with these considerations, Europe has identified the need to overcome the digital gap, and on May 19, 2010 it launched the European Digital Agenda. The Agenda is one of the seven flagship strategies of the Europe 2020 program proposed by the European Commission, which aims to grow the digital economy in the member states of the European Union – characterized by incompatible systems and irregular connectivity – and create a single European digital market. There is a common need for EU member states to strengthen the digital skills of European citizens so that they can fully participate in society, and benefit from the job opportunities that this sector of the economy can offer them in the coming years. It is estimated that by 2020 jobs requiring skills in the digital economy will increase to 16 million.

To activate the virtuous circle for which ICT can stimulate EU economic activity, the Agenda identifies seven priority action areas:

  • Create a single digital market;

  • Improve the context for interoperability between ICT products and services;

  • Stimulate trust in the Internet and online security;

  • Ensure the provision of much faster Internet access;

  • Encourage investment in research and development;

  • Improve literacy, skills, and inclusion in the digital world;

  • Use ICT to face social issues such as climate change, increased healthcare spending, and an aging population.

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