Metropolitan cities, smart cities: only slogans if we don't start from the "public"

slide1Smart, metropolitan cities with a social impact: all beautiful definitions, but with the risk of becoming empty, rhetorical, like the many that, in Italy, have been wasted, consumed, simply because those words were not followed by actions.

This is why there is distrust on the part of the people, who rightly ask for action.

Instead, you need the courage to make one counter-current proposal: let's start from the words, let's give them back their meaning, let's reappropriate their values. The ending itself is harmful. Because before actions there must be words, which establish values, indicate a direction.

And the first word to start from is “public”.

Today the word public has lost all positive connotations, becoming synonymous with waste, inefficiency, corruption. Nevertheless, no innovation will ever be possible without the “public”.

The public cannot be replaced by the private. First of all because the interest it pursues is, precisely, private, and not public, and secondly because it too is not exempt from corruption and scandals, both in the profit and non-profit spheres.

So, the first word to reappropriate is not smart or innovation, but public: a Municipality, a Region, even before being smart, they must know how to be public, that is, subjects who pursue the common good. It may seem trivial, taken for granted, but it's not like that: you need to start again from the abc before attempting high-sounding projects.

After all, it is no coincidence that the World Bank has a sector dedicated to this, to strengthening public institutions: it is the main tool for preventing corruption.

How do you restore the meaning of the word public?

First of all, involving citizens, businesses and other stakeholders of the public.

We often forget that we are not just users of the public, but also shareholders, given that we finance all public activities with the payment of taxes and fees.

So, we have the right to know how a municipality or a region works, our municipality, our region. This meansaccountability.

To be accountable sherve transparency. However, this too is an overused word, because it is reduced to a mere fulfillment and not an opportunity for improvement: the result is that today we are inundated with data, which however are not homogeneous, not updated, not comparable and therefore often not usable.

Transparency, on the other hand, must not be an end in itself, but rather a necessary tool for evaluation of the public. As a citizen, I don't need to know only How much my Municipality has spent, but also and above all how he spent and for what: even a euro not spent for the common good is a waste to be cut.

The evaluation is a smart mode, truly innovative, to improve the audience and since to evaluate must be citizens and businesses, Fondazione Etica has created a tool that allows citizens to do this: the Public rating. What is it for? Not to give report cards, but to make our money spend better: in this it is a concrete instrument of social innovation.

As users and as shareholders, we must expect public resources to be used where they are best used and cut where – Municipalities, Regions, Ministries – they are wasted.

The Rating is also social inclusion tool, because it actively involves citizens. One of the many words that we have wasted, in fact, isparticipation. We are all tired of being asked to participate passively, for example by flagging green or red smileys on public services.

The Rating, on the other hand, allows one more mature participation, not emotional, because it asks citizens to collect and send documents, images, videos, on what happens to them on a daily basis in contact with the public. Therefore, an inclusive tool, which we could call the PA tripadvisor.