Integrating ICT into Sustainable Local Policies

Integrating ICT into Sustainable Local Policies

Antonio Caperna (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0882-5.ch605
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This chapter analyses the Information and Communication Technologies (hereafter referred to as ICT) phenomenon, the opportunities it offers, the potential problems, and the relationship with local policies. It moves on the actions needed to develop, within the Agenda 21 process, a framework able to define some fundamental features for a new spatial theory in the information age, which will eventually consider Information and Communication Technology not just a simple tool, but a crucial aspect of a sustainable policy, capable, if well addressed, to mitigate various current or emerging territorial challenges such as literacy and education, public participation in the planning process, social and geographical divide, institutional transparency, etc.. This chapter will illustrate a framework able to assist politicians and planners in planning a sustainable development through ICT.
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As claimed by several authors, we live in the information age (Masuda, 1981; Castells, 1996, 2002). An era where knowledge and information have become key factors in the growth of contemporary society triggering socio-political and economical as well as cultural and spatial changes (e.g. the emergence of the space of flows, Castells, 1996).

On one side, new political and environmental challenges inspired by the acceptance of the sustainable development principles have induced governments and public authorities to open up access to environmental information as a means to improve public participation in environmental decision making and awareness. On the other side the growth of ICT is a tool that not only constitutes an industry in its own right but which also pervades all sectors of economy, where it acts as integrating and enabling technologies. ICT have a profound impact on society, and their production and use have important effects on the development of economic, social and environmental areas, promoting new questions discussed by theorists and planners. But the extent of ICT in everyday life and its strong relationship with socio-cultural and economic aspects produce a complex equation which is difficult to understand and solve.

This paper aims to explain some fundamental aspects about ICT, and to offer a framework that will allow: planning a sustainable policy; addressing ICT in a sustainable way; developing an analytical process of understanding environmental information use, and supporting public access, improving awareness and participation processes. This assumption is based on the current trend within public authorities to use ICT as a major delivery medium.

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