Twenty key actions are planned to promote the adoption of technology not only from an economic standpoint, but in the everyday life of every citizen. This is because Italy has the duty to garner the benefits of the digital age, and can no longer backtrack
by Claudio Bertoli
By reading the policy document “2025 Strategy for Technological Innovation and Digitization of the Country” by the Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digitization, it is possible to obtain a detailed vision of what Italy will be like in the future, which may be summarized in twenty key actions.
“We are living in the period with the highest rate of innovation in the whole history of mankind, in the middle of a technological revolution whereby innovation and science provide opportunities never seen before,” Minister Paola Pisano stated.
“An age where what was impossible becomes possible: we can find our way around in a city we do not know, drive a car which is not ours, communicate in a language we do not speak, access new knowledge in a click and describe what we are seeing in real time to the whole world. We also live in an extremely complex period, where different technologies and trends do not allow us time to adapt, invading at an exponential speed every sector of our society, from education to politics, from production to social security, right up to to our personal domain”.
The password is “innovation”
Amidst opportunities and complexities, Italy is struggling to take its first steps towards innovation: among the causes, a lack of common vision, driving towards actions capable of urging a digital and technological transformation onto our country, organizing transformation processes in an interconnected way, facilitating change in a structural way and creating favourable conditions for the creation of innovation. According to the Minister, this is the last opportunity we have available to imagine the future we want and realize it by means of the conscious adoption of technology, integrated with society from an ethical, social, economic, environmental and biological standpoint.
Italy has the duty to garner the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution, implementing right away systemic initiatives for the development of digitization and technology in every sector, providing workers with the knowledge needed for the “jobs of the future” and training new generations to prepare them for the world in store for them.
Among the 20 actions we also find the “Right to innovate”: starting from the 2019 index published by the World Bank, which ranks Italy as 51st on a list of countries which favour entrepreneurship, the Action Plan aims to “allow the experimentation of groundbreaking innovation, temporarily disabling current rules if necessary. If innovation proves to have a positive social impact, the norms allowing this innovation to become a product or service will be modified or created”.
A series of creative projects leading to a digitized country
Among the first 20 actions listed by the Minister in the Action Plan, alongside not particularly new initiatives such as digital identity and an app for public services, there are creative projects such as the “Villages of the Future” where emerging technologies may be concentrated, “Saturdays of the Future” to bring students closer to technology by dedicating ten Saturdays a year to updates for Italian upper secondary school students and their teachers on the most recent segments of technology and innovation, as well as the tablet for senior citizens (“A senior citizen, a tablet and a smile for digital inclusion”), by mens of which seniors living in towns where the risk of incurring in the digital divide is higher will receive a personalised tablet with a series of apps issued by public and private entities, allowing them to read a newspaper offered at special conditions by publishers, to shop and order medicines, to make emergency calls and communicate with their relatives. The tablets, new or reconditioned, will be donated by ICT companies, while an army of volunteers (also thanks to the creation of the digital civil service) will train the senior citizens to use the tablet and apps.
A digitized country is therefore in store for us, where economic development will be driven by “Made in Italy” innovation and technology will be at the service of people and their rights.
“We will achieve digital identity as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed, “because we want to turn Italy into a real smart nation. We want technological development to be also ethical”. He pointed out that the Green New Deal cannot be achieved without technological innovation. Further: “We need to move forward at an increasingly fast rate towards automation and artificial intelligence to be able to express the primacy we have in many fields, starting with culture”. The Prime Minister then underlined the use of digital payments against the underground economy. It would seem there are 80-100 billion euro at stake; if they were to surface, this would allow us to reduce taxes considerably. “We want to provide citizens and businesses with a range of possibilities for electronic payments”.
Three phases for three objectives
According to the government’s plan, three objectives will be the starting point: online access to Public Administration services by citizens and businesses; digitization of the private sector driven by the public sector; enhancement of public information assets and incentives for the use and sharing of data by administrations and individuals. This first phase will imply some key actions: the relaunch of digital identity, the digital address for all until the launch of IO, the app for public services, allowing anyone to interface with all public services using a single channel.
The second phase will aim at building an innovative Italy, capable of producing Made in Italy technology and innovation and to exploit this innovation for the relaunch of the traditional production sectors of our country, with the aim of promoting structural changes so as to facilitate and accelerate innovation in the ecosystem; increasing the innovative potential of cities and territories; creating capillary, reliable, innovative and green technological infrastructures. Among key actions supporting this phase, the construction of cutting-edge digital infrastructures, the establishment of the right to innovate to encourage the creation of start-ups, the promotion of artificial intelligence solutions, the creation of hubs and “Villages of the Future”, where local ecosystems can be set up to encourage the development of innovation. The third phase, finally, concerns an inclusive and sustainable development. The main aim is for innovation to serve people and leave no one behind. Among actions, the “Digital Republic” initiative will lead to the creation of a training hub against the digital divide, while the establishment of an AI Ethical LAB-EL will establish ethical guiding principles for the correct use of artificial intelligence.
The role of digital services
“These actions,” Minister Pisano underlined, “describe our idea for the country, where digital services are a driver for development even of the private sector, the State supports sustainable and inclusive innovation and all citizens enjoy the same and new rights, without social, economic, age, territorial or other distinctions.
The program is very ambitious, we hope that at least part of the 20 points proposed will be concretely implemented to make our country efficient and competitive again.