How Technologies Can Enhance Open Policy Making and Citizen-Responsive Urban Planning: MiraMap - A Governing Tool for the Mirafiori Sud District in Turin (Italy)

How Technologies Can Enhance Open Policy Making and Citizen-Responsive Urban Planning: MiraMap - A Governing Tool for the Mirafiori Sud District in Turin (Italy)

Francesca De Filippi (Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy), Cristina Coscia (Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy), and Roberta Guido (Department of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning, Università degli Studi di Sassari, Sassari, Italy)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2017010102
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This paper explores an innovative approach to open policymaking and citizen-responsive urban planning. It reports on project MiraMap carried out by the Politecnico di Torino (the Polytechnic University of Turin). The project engages both citizens and the Public Administration in a reporting process concerning critical issues, as well as positive trends and resources within the Mirafiori Sud administrative area of Turin (Italy), through the use of a digital collaborative platform. The experiment was a real case study geared at evaluating the use of open source technologies to foster e-participation in urban planning. MiraMap has been set up with an eye to achieving integration within the current administrative management process and to involving new actors in the decision-making process through a “collective governance” approach. Therefore, this paper seeks to set up a methodological (and technological) framework, which is seen as crucial for addressing the complexity and dynamics of urban planning and programming, by integrating the perspectives of citizens through their actual engagement.
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1. Introduction

Nowadays, attention to citizens’ participation and interaction in decision-making is central to the debate about Smart Cities. Technological progress has enabled the creation (Silva, 2010) and rapid evolution (Geertman & Stillwell, 2009) of a new form of urban planning—referred to as e-planning—that incorporates the traditional elements of urban planning into information communication technologies (ICT).

ICT are integrated in everyday life and continuously evolving. They include portable digital devices (digital cameras, mobile phones and laptops, etc.), but also a range of applications and online services, such as email, photo and video sharing platforms, Web 2.0 and social media. According to Saad-Sulonen (Saad-Sulonen, 2012) “the participatory e-planning can be defined as the site of active stakeholder involvement, not only in the traditional collaborative urban planning activities, but also in the co-production and sharing of media content, as well as in the configuration of the supporting technologies”.

Nevertheless, in many cases technological solutions have been proposed without fully considering either first needs and usability by citizens (Calzada & Cobo, 2014) or the socio-technical misalignment within the city (Rogers, 2010), i.e. the peripheral area.

Within the conceptual framework of experimental knowledge regarding the use of ICT in policy-making, one of the central topics that emerges is the configuration of a common spatial data infrastructure for territorial authorities during the analysis, decision-making and evaluation phases performed in support of planning policies and land management at different levels.

On the basis of the above, this paper discusses the assumption of the Smart City’s transition from technological determinism to open access and user-centred systems in which the smart use of information can increase transparency, accountability, participation, and collaboration (Calzada & Cobo, 2014; Grimm, Fox, Baines, & Albertson, 2013; Mulgan, 2007) in urban planning and programming.

The study group defined the following research questions while structuring the conceptual framework:

  • Can ICT support active and effective citizen participation in urban planning processes? How can we design and set up a collaborative digital platform involving citizens and Local Authorities to foster active citizenship and accountability/transparency in the Public Administration?

  • How can we combine physical and digital proximity in order to avoid the shortcomings of the use of social media, i.e. to respond to the people using them?

  • How can data collected using technological tools be accessed and used, becoming a support for strategic urban planning and design?

The research group focused on applied research carried out in relation to an urban periphery of Turin in order to respond to the research questions, which will be addressed in sections 3 and 4.

In particular, project MiraMap, which will be explained in the following sections, deals with the harmonization of data design in relation to Citizen-Public Administration interaction and the development of micro-urban planning scenarios supported and activated by the digital platform that need to be assessed in a forward-looking, dynamic way.

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