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In Italy, smart city in infancy, yet potential can’t be ignored

In Italy, smart city in infancy, yet potential can’t be ignored
The smart city concept is still in its infancy stage in Italy. However, growth potential is huge, thanks to increased awareness as well as advances in technologies, such as 5G.
The smart city concept is still in its infancy stage in Italy. However, growth potential is huge, thanks to increased awareness as well as advances in technologies, such as 5G.
It goes without saying that across the globe, urbanization is in full swing as people in rural areas migrate to urban settings. Inevitably, this leads to various problems, for example crime, waste spillage and traffic jams. To better manage cities, municipal administrators turn to smart city solutions to solve those problems.
In Asia, the smart city concept has picked up rapidly, as various municipalities deploy smart parking, smart traffic management as well as smart waste management solutions, consisted of various types of sensors connected to a central management system.
In Italy, smart city is a relatively new concept. Some cities are at the beginning stage of smart city development, where solutions are only deployed partially, not holistically. “I'm quite sure Milan is an example. Mobility in Milan is very efficient,” said Massimo Martinelli, Director for Domestic Marketing and Sales Civil at Thales Italia. “Florence is in a good position, but at this stage they only have single subsystems, not an integrated solution.”
Yet smart city’s growth potential in Italy is not to be ignored, as people realize the benefits smart cities can offer. “In a smart city, you can improve the safety of the people; you can use algorithms that are able to detect faces and whether certain people are exhibiting abnormal behavior,” Martinelli said. “You can also find out how many cars are in which car parks. All this leads to more safety, less cost for police and a dramatic reduction in accidents."
Christian Salvatori, CTO,
Especially, there are certain problems facing Italian cities that can be addressed via smart city solutions. “In Italy, traffic can be very much of a problem because in big cities like Milan and Rome, you get a lot of traffic jams, and getting traffic information in real time with alternative routes will help manage traffic in a better way and dispatch cars in different directions,” said Christian Salvatori, CTO of Brochesia. “Italy is like Taiwan and China in that it's a very industrial country, and people now are used to technology, in particular mobile technology, as they always need information on the move.”

Technology to fuel smart city growth

Meanwhile, technology will serve as a main growth driver for smart city development in Italy. In particular, smart cities require a lot of data – including video data that are huge in size – to be transmitted to the cloud or control centers for analysis. In this sense, 5G can play an important role.
5G is currently offered on a trial basis by WIND and 3, two major Italian telecom operators to which Brochesia is a partner. With Brochesia’s solution, a user wearing a special pair of goggles can share whatever he sees with anyone in the world, via 5G transmission.
According to Salvatori, 5G is now only being trialed in five cities in Italy: Milan, Prato, L'Aquila, Bari and Matera. However, he said when fully deployed, 5G’s contribution to smart city development in Italy can’t be ignored. In fact, he cited some examples of how 5G has already made certain Italian cities smarter.
“In L’Aquila, they are providing assistance to patients that are not in hospitals but in their home. With 5G coverage, patients at home can get good care despite they are not being at the hospital,” Salvatori said. “Also in L’Aquila, there’s a solution in which information in the streets is collected and transferred to an operative center, which then immediately distribute this information to citizens.”
Even though challenges still remain, Salvatori is optimistic about the future prospects of smart city development in Italy. “The challenge is the finance. If the government cannot locate the money for investing, then they can't do it. But the government through these trials has already realized the benefits citizens can get,” he said. “I’m optimistic. It’s just a matter of having the right funding and investing for getting the technology deployed.”

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