Today, Turin is perhaps one of the three benchmark smart cities in Italy, along with Bologna and Genoa. We had a conversation about Turin with Donatella Mosso, executive director of “Torino Smart City. A Winter Olympics”. A strong commitment towards innovation and tourism were the key points for the success of a city that has even seen how its climate changed for the better. Turin is now a fog-free city
There was a turning point in the recent history of the city of Turin: The Winter Olympic Games in 2006. It was then that a city which was an industrial leader in the country started to transform into a modern European capital, a top-notch tourist destination and a European benchmark for culture. Its previous history was a firm ground for the current administration to introduce several smart measures. All operations were centralized in a foundation -reporting to the City Council- called Torino Smart City. We interviewed its executive director, Donatella Mosso, in order to find out more about the magical moment of the city. Thanks to innovative measures and a citizen-focused strategic plan, Turin is now perhaps one of the three benchmark cities in Italy, along with Bologna and Genoa (the fourth one, Milan, is developing to its fullest potential on the occasion of the Expo 2015, which will start next May).
In our conversation about Turin, Mosso helps us discover that, without the slightest doubt, Turin is much more than the smart city it has eventually become. It is a very attractive city from the touristic point of view, a city that keeps a close eye on innovation but still remains in tune with its own history. We are not to forget that it was Italy’s first capital and that, fostered by the booming success of Fiat -Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, the world-famous car manufacturing plant- it has always been friendly and welcoming. In the last few years, due a a “climate mystery”, the city that was once famous (in the last century) for being cold and grey because of the fog, has seen how weather conditions are now milder and the fog seems to have disappeared. Mosso, along with many other inhabitants of Turin, has witnessed this “climate miracle”.
Which were the priorities in the smart policy undertaken by the city?
In 2013 we started to analyze the smart measures that had already been introduced in the territory. We did so by creating several working groups that included about 350 people who worked in the institutional field. All of them contributed their knowledge to the creation of a master-plan where specific, achievable goals were set. From then on, and on the basis of European Union regulations, we were able to develop about ten projects involving mobility, energy, smart building and all the cross-cutting measures on big data, transparency, etc. The master plan is called SMILE (an acronym for Smart-Mobility-Inclusion-Life&Health-Energy); it was drawn up in five months and includes 45 ideas. On such grounds, phase two, which considers extending smart measures to the metropolitan area of the city, was reached in December 2014.
Which strategy was used?
We are following a strategy called PON-Metro (Operational National Plan) in Italy. The plan anticipates the creation of 14 metropolitan areas. Turin is the most complex city in that sense, as 315 population centres belong to its metropolitan region, including small villages and cities. We focused on the 38 town councils located in the region that is closest to the city and with the highest population density. We gathered their experiences and analyzed where we may act in cooperation and which services may be shared. For instance, we set the ground for a car-sharing service that includes Turin as well as the other town halls. Besides, we reached agreements to make bike lanes longer in order to reach nearby towns.
“Turin is a complex city, as 315 population centres belong to its metropolitan region, including small villages and cities”
Italy is working hard to define common strategies. For instance, next March a platform of Italian smart cities will be created by ANCI (an association that gathers more than 8.000 Italian cities) and the city of Turin will be introduced there as a benchmark.
Indeed. We want our experience to be a useful model for other cities. For example, we are in a cutting-edge position in terms of mobility: we have developed the technological system 5T, which includes a highly evolved system for traffic light control and for public transport routes using geolocation. Besides, we are moving towards public lighting systems that use leds (our goal is for 60% of the public lighting system to be using leds in the next two years), a highly regarded action in our country, as it not only brings about energy savings: the kind of light emitted increases the citizens’ feeling of safety.
If you were to choose the most important smart initiatives that are already in action in the city, which one would you choose?
We are proud to be the city where teleheating systems are more widely available in all Europe. I consider this to be a top-notch smart element, given that it considerably reduces energy consumption. Besides, we have worked very hard on smart tourism management using cutting-edge technological developments, because this sector has significantly grown in the last few years in the city. Finally, there also aspects involving social innovation; we have created structures to attract young students or researchers from all over the world in order to turn the city into an innovation benchmark.
“We are proud to be the city where teleheating systems are more widely available in all Europe”
Turin, more vibrant than ever, keeps changing and transforming. How do you envision your future?
We will continue working on increasing citizen-administration interaction, trying to find ways for citizens to suggest solutions whenever they feel it is necessary.