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The future of smart mobility passes through Palermo

11 September 2017

The City of Palermo has been involved in two important projects of the URBACT Program: Interactive Cities and CityMobilNet. For this reason we tried to underline the contact points and the advantages that every project can bring to the other in order to realize a strategic plan for the growth of an innovative system of organization, participation and smart city development.

Starting from the assumption that local administration needs to innovate because the wider world is dynamic, the Municipality of  Palermo has implemented innovative forms of citizen participation since 2012, but it is necessary to understand more about how social innovation should be fostered, supported, sustained and implemented.
More and more, urban area has been considered not only as the object of innovation but also as innovation ecosystems empowering the collective intelligence and co-creation capabilities of user/citizen communities for designing innovative living scenarios.
Creating a smart community with smart government and smart citizens is identified as the most effective instrument for achieving the goals of creating innovative and dynamic relationships.
The increasing importance of Web 2.0 and the uptake of social networking by the population have driven the Municipality of Palermo to explore the potentials and challenges of using these channels for citizen dialogues aiming at improving citizen participation in decision making processes, particularly in the field of sustainable mobility.
Social media practices in the Municipality of Palermo include the use of online social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ Instagram, the institutional web site and other digital media sharing sites to support the organization’s mission, service delivery and innovative participation processes management.

Specific examples of the ongoing innovative citizen participation processes realized by the Municipality of Palermo are:

- Public maps and continuous open improvement: in the website of the Municipality of Palermo it has been provided a tool (Geoblog) for citizen participation where problems in the local environment can be reported.

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- Public innovation and ideas competitions: it consists in offering rewards for solutions to specific problems, for example: the contest “ApPalermo,  allowing citizens to access open data in order to develop applications.

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- Electronic Town Meeting: where citizens are included into the process of public decision-making by discussing problems concerning all political areas, and presenting the discussion results to the political decision-makers.

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The Municipality of Palermo has also developed an instrument of e-participation called  “ParteciPalermo” which allows multiple participation levels: a virtual place where city administration and citizens exchange information, build an ongoing dialogue, develop mutual trust in order to facilitate the sharing of the administrative decisions.

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Communication strategy implies a strong cohesion within the administration and an effective collaboration with local stakeholders, the selected approaches carry within different tools and organization systems according to following questions:

1)  How to ensure that all people are involved in the decision making process?
2)  As citizens often have many valuable suggestions, how to ensure that input is addressed within the Administration in an effective manner?
3) How to involve stakeholders in the programming, implementation and evaluation phase?

These are our challenges and the main aim of our work both on local and on transnational level: improve bi-directional communication with citizens, focusing also on the value of informal communication to receive their feedbacks (especially from tourists and students) to get their perception and suggestions about sustainable mobility policies.

Municipality of Palermo