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Green and Smart Cities: Italy’s Role in Sustainable Urban Development

15 May 2023 2023, 9:00 (Italy); 15:00 (Indonesia) – Webinar “Green and Smart City, Regeneration, Design and New Technologies for a Sustainable Future”
16-24 May 2023, 9:00 (Italy); 15:00 (Indonesia) – Business Meeting

Dr. Giuliano Liguori – founder and CEO of Kenovy
The Italian concept of the Italian Smart City, the opportunities to access services for the less well-off classes.

Text of the speech

Ladies and Gentlemen,

it is a great honor for me to be present today as a keynote speaker to discuss the topic of Green and Smart Cities and the role that Italy can play in this process. First of all, I would also like to extend my congratulations to Indonesia on its ambitious construction project of Nusantara, the new capital, and express my gratitude for this opportunity to promote the Italian concept and implementation of a green and smart city. From my point of view, collaboration and friendship between nations are crucial in achieving these goals.

We are all aware that as urbanization continues to grow around the world, livable and sustainable cities become increasingly important. As we know, the concept of smart cities goes beyond managing resources intelligently, achieving energy self-sufficiency, and integrating innovation and digital technologies. It involves a new approach to urban planning that thanks to large quantities of Big Data can meet the needs of both citizens and the environment. Not without reason, to make a city smarter the EU has identified six areas of intervention and analysis: Environment, Economy, People, Governance, Mobility, and Living understood as the quality of life and living space.

This implies a shift away from a linear economic model that focuses on producing, consuming, and disposing of goods, to a circular model that prioritizes reuse, sharing, and extending the lifespan of products. This new paradigm also has the added benefit of addressing the needs of middle and lower-income classes. Moreover, Startups play a significant role in this new ecosystem and open innovation approach is gaining ground.

To illustrate the Italian approach there are several Smart City projects underway.

For instance, Ernst and Young recognize Milan, Bologna, and Turin as “Smart Cities” that have implemented intelligent solutions in energy, waste management, transport, and digitalization, making them models of sustainable urban development. In addition, Florence, Trento, Bergamo, Cremona, Modena, and Cagliari have also made significant progress in achieving their objectives.

I would like to focus on examples such as Milan, Florence, and Bologna.

  1. Milan is considered to be the best Smart City in Italy. On the one hand, Milan has implemented new forms of intelligent mobility, such as bike sharing, car sharing, and electric scooter sharing. The city is also working to install 1,000 new charging stations by the end of next year and introduce 1,200 electric buses by 2030. Moreover, sustainability is also a key focus, with projects such as the Bosco Verticale, a tower designed with artificial intelligence that uses innovative materials and is energy efficient. Furthermore, Milan is working, also to promote the reuse and recycling of materials and reducing waste.
  1. Florence’s Smart City model focuses around three essential aspects: Connection, Innovation and E-mobility. For example An excellent instance of this is the recent Smart City Control Room project, which is a comprehensive processing system utilizing georeferenced data from all corners of the city to enable real-time mobility management that can promptly address emergencies.  Additionally, the OpenRu system already provides citizens with real-time traffic updates and advanced notification about public projects approved by the administration. The city’s dedication to developing the electric mobility system is equally significant, with 179 public charging stations available for the four thousand electric vehicles in the Florence metropolitan area. The Electra project also aims to replace 10% of city mopeds with electric versions within the next year, and electric buses have undergone testing. One of the most intriguing initiatives is the Replicate project, which aims to improve energy efficiency in the city’s suburbs through smart grids, intelligent lighting, and district heating.
  1. The third example I’d like to mention is Smart City project in Bologna, launched in 2012, has a different approach. This initiative has led to investments in cultural heritage, e-care, e-health, and refurbishment of public and private buildings to improve energy efficiency and sustainable waste management. Other significant initiatives in this transformation include redesigning the public internet using a cloud-based system that employs integrated digital identities to group the contents and services of the public administration, businesses, and citizens. The city has also implemented networks such as smart grid, ultra-broadband, and intelligent lighting with the refurbishment of 8,200 public lighting units. Additionally, the city has taken steps towards sustainable mobility through initiatives such as bicycles, e-car sharing, and electric vehicles. Bologna has also installed ATMs allowing people to withdraw cryptomoneties.

Looking into the future, smart cities in Italy are expected to become more interconnected, sensor-filled, and data-driven, leading to increasingly advanced services included charging points for electric cars, environmental sensors, and smart parking and, smart traffic lights and street lighting.


In addition to the smart city concept, as part of this webinar, I would also like to mention my direct experience with the project MaaS for Italy. Italy has implemented the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) project as part of its “Digital Italy 2026” strategy. The project that is truly a new paradigm in the world of transport, aims to promote the usage of sustainable modes of transportation while limiting individual mobility.

This initiative integrates multiple public and private transport services accessible through a single digital channel. Users can publish, book, and pay for various services such as public transport, car sharing, bike sharing, and taxis through digital intermediation platforms according to their needs. The project has three lines of action: testing MaaS in different territories, creating an open platform called Data Sharing and Service Repository Facilities (DS&SRF), and strengthening the digital dimension of public transport. The project is financed by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, with a total investment of 40 million euros and an additional 16.9 million allocated by the Complementary Fund.

The ‘Mobility as a Service for Italy’ project includes three main phases.

  1. The first phase will finance experimentation in technologically advanced metropolitan cities, which are defined as ‘pilot’ cities. Milan, Naples, and Rome were identified in the first public notice.
  1. Given the high quality of the projects presented, in the second phase, the central administrations, DTD and MIT, will allocate additional resources from the Complementary Fund of the PNRR to extend the initiative to three other capital municipalities of metropolitan cities, currently under selection.
  1. The third phase of the project envisages subsequent selection of seven territories, according to a multi-territorial approach, capable of ensuring continuity of the travel experience between different cities, territories, and regions.

“MaaS for Italy” is an excellent example of how the state can act as a regulator and enabler, financing the creation of an open platform (DS&SRF) and defining rules, regulations, and standards for all ecosystem players.

We operators of digital transformation and innovation believe that technologies are means and not ends. The goal, we repeat it again, is to improve the quality of life of citizens and contribute to a sustainable future for all. To achieve this goal, descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analysis first of all and then networks of sensors capable of detecting and transmitting data on water and energy needs, environmental pollution levels, traffic intensity, and more can help. Smart home technologies can also help reduce waste by automatically turning off lights in empty rooms or adjusting the temperature based on the number of people in the room. A data-driven approach is essential and the analysis and management of data collected through IoT applications and technologies are crucial to support business decisions and the services offered by municipalities and public administrations.

You can also like reading Beyond smart cities: How IoT is changing the world

Undoubtedly, to establish a “smart” city or region, it is crucial to engage all stakeholders, including citizens, organizations, and universities and to direct efforts towards creating inclusive, sustainable, and resilient communities. Moreover, promoting digital literacy and safeguarding privacy rights is imperative. It is vital to bridge the digital divide that may exist between various age groups or populations such as urban versus rural dwellers and to prevent technology from intensifying socioeconomic disparities or bias. Furthermore, ensuring the protection of personal data and enhancing information and cyber security must also be a central focus while building a smart city.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, we find ourselves in a new world that is both greener and smarter benefitting all. I wish everyone a good job.

Thank you.