Milan's Sharing City Policy Strategy

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On Milan's Policy Strategy

By Monica Bernardi, Davide Diamantini:

"To reply to all these challenges that are common in all Italian and European cities, and to foster innovation promoting social inclusion at the same time, the public administration of Milan has welcomed external incitements on the topic of the sharing economy, evaluating it as an additional strategy with winning potentially, and including it in its agenda, thus becoming the first Italian city to adopt a policy of “sharing”.

The first step, in fact, came from outside the administration, with the birth of Sharexpo11: Milan shared city for Expo 2015, launched by Collaboriamo, Eni Enrico Mattei Foundation, Modacult, Expolab and Secolo Urbano. The starting idea was to make a collective reasoning around the topic of the sharing economy in view of the International Exposition (EXPO MILANO 2015), in order to identify proposals and initiatives useful to tackle the presence of the 20 million visitors expected.

Given the exponential estimated demand growth during the six months of the exposition (and an offer almost static), Sharexpo considered the City and the Province of Milan an ideal testing ground to experiment services and tools of the sharing economy. The process was participatory from the beginning and started with the aim of providing an incentive to the normative design and to innovation in favor of collaborative services, and of overcoming bureaucratic constraints that prevent the effective implementation of these services in the city. The reflection was able to highlight the potential of the collaborative economy in Milan. The project originated in the event Sharitaly held in November 2013, a major convention on the sharing economy and the first Italian event entirely dedicated to this emerging paradigm. It was followed by ad hoc working tables involving startups, large corporations, associations, social enterprises, government agencies, research centers, etc. and represented a way to connect entities working in similar fields, but unware to be part of the same whole. Thanks to careful coordination, a Steering Committee for Sharexpo has been created, with significant contributions and interesting impulses and reflections around the smart city and the sharing economy during the exposition. In July 2014, the Sharexpo official launch document has been presented with a set of specific goals: to analyze the role of a mega event such as Expo 2015 as a potential driving force for Shareable Cities; to identify critical issues and potentialities in five sectors (mobility, hospitality, food, leisure and work); to identify the role of the sharing economy and inflect it in the five identified areas; to evaluate areas for improvement in regulatory, cultural and organizational terms; to develop a strategy for action; and to realize a feasibility report at employment, economic, territorial, cultural and social levels. The impulse for a deep reflection has thus arrived thanks to the international exposition, finding immediately a very fertile ground.

The public administration has supported from the beginning these first solicitations, letting itself getting involved, recognizing the will of commitment coming from the bottom and demonstrating an already rooted sensitivity toward innovations. Considering the citizen incitements in line with its political address, having always promoted social innovation and Smart City, and recognizing the sharing economy as a catalyst in this frame, it has started an internal reflection on the topic and opened an online public consultation19 equipped with a questionnaire. The goal of the consultation and of the questionnaire was to collect, directly from citizenship, information, requests, demands, and ideas on the possibility of pushing on collaborative and sharing services. The consultation highlighted the importance for the PA to become an “enabling platform” 20 of the sharing economy.

Following these indications directly emerged from ordinary citizens, businesses, new startups, activists, innovators, creative and experts too, after the consultation, open to anyone who wanted to help, the Municipality organized several public events on the topic. The consultation process has pushed an incredible variety of actors (businesses, associations, movements of consumers, citizens, etc...) to connect directly with the public administration, generating a huge patrimony of input and information, unprecedented for the city and for Italy as a whole, a real collaborative policy making process. In December 2014, the Municipality has approved the Guidelines on “Sharing Economy”, precisely a result of the information collected through the consultation. These guidelines make the administrative purpose and the potential role of the PA clear. As one can read in the resolution guidelines: “In an interinstitutional and multi-governance context, the public Administration can create the conditions so that those who are now potential opportunities for the city become effective opportunities for growth, innovation and inclusion, enhancing existing practices and inspiring new ones that are responsive to the needs of the city”. This statement shows the proactive approach of the PA about the new economy of collaboration and the role that it could play in the urban context.

Among the various actions that the City intends to implement, some steps have already been taken, including the mapping of actors (by November 2015 the Register counts 102 participants, 60 are experts of the topic and 42 are operators, but the registration is still possible since the call will be always open) and the systematization of the most important experiences of the territory along with the support of the communication of such initiatives. The mapping has revealed a social and economic fabric particularly dynamic, diverse and heterogeneous, different from what the mainstream literature on the subject suggests, since it is more focused on territorial localization and on social issues and less on technological innovations (Pais, Milano(è)In series, 07.06.2015).

The PA is also working on the field of the research, promoting the development of research activities on the economic, environmental and social impacts of the sharing and collaborative economy. It has also launched an experimental civic crowdfunding22 with an allocation of over 400 thousand euros seeking to create and let emerge innovative projects and shared social networks related to social gatherings, to develop a more accessible city attentive to the needs of people with disabilities, to the elderly and the families. The Council Member Tajani23 underlines that “thanks to these crowdfunding actions, new innovative projects with a high social content will have a real opportunity to fund them and will favor the development of a more innovative city that looks at the future in a supportive way”.

All these initiatives are part of a more articulated reasoning that the city is carrying on to look at the social innovation as a way—a tool—to favor the social inclusion. The project “Milano(è)In” of the Labor Policies Division, thanks to the support of the innovation and sharing economy’s protagonists in Milan, is activating skills, competences and resources in order to exploit the city’s potential in favor of better social inclusion. See for example the 5 incubators with active participation of the municipality: FabriQ, this year at its second edition, born to promote and incentivize the emergence of new social businesses in marginalized neighborhoods; Alimenta2Talent – oriented to new startups that work in the field of food and life science; PoliHub – created in partnership with the Polytechnic of Milan, offers a program of entrepreneurial empowerment, a network, and spaces and innovative services for startups; SpeedMiUp – an initiative to support employment and entrepreneurship sponsored by the Milan Chamber of Commerce and the City of Milan in consortium with the Bocconi University in charge of executing it; and A.I.R – a business accelerator that aims to support the entrepreneurial activities (profit and no-profit) inside Milanese jails. Beside these initiatives, three more activities will be undertaken in 2016 to reuse spaces in Via D'Azeglio, ex-Ansaldo (just became BASE MILANO) and Smart City Lab. The total monetary investment of the administration is over 18 million euro, set to meet the needs of those who want to do business and innovation. The first space will gift the city with a modern FabLab to provide services for new digital artisans; Ex-Ansaldo space, with its 6000 square meters, will host activities and projects related to the development of cultural creativity and entrepreneurship and the tender will last 21 years (it will host the first Collaborative Week of the city in November 2015); Smart City Lab, realized with the support of Ministry of Economic Development, with its 4000 square meters, will allow the incubation of innovative companies with high technological value and will be equipped with a showroom to exhibit the technologies produced, a co-working room and a conference room. Beside these realities, in the “Casa della Collaborazione - Collaboration House” (Co-Hub) will be opened in Calusca alley, a place for operators of the sharing economy and others to meet, debate and discuss. A public call will define the manager and supervisor actor that together with the network will self-organize to bring forward the networking activity, in collaboration with the public administration. The municipality can and is committed to realizing the promotion of calls for the provision of funds for business ventures and startups dealing with sharing economy. Milan, among other things, includes the highest number of coworking spaces in Italy, and 53 of them have been certified and included in the Official Register of the Municipality. In addition there are 9 FabLab and spaces for the makers. Under the logic of optimizing resources, it has provided vouchers for the use of the accredited spaces.

From the point of view of shared use, as required by the guidelines, the City is committed to providing enabling infrastructure such as physical and virtual spaces of discussion and engagement. For example, the city has assigned more than 22,000 square meters of unused spaces to associations, startups and citizens. It has set up 8 new shared gardens (34 thousand square meters), and realized 24 houses for the solidarity hospitality(co-housing). The mobility sector is then certainly one of the most important sectors of the functioning sharing economy: there are4 carsharing operators with over 2,000 daily users, sharing of scooters and bikes with pedal assistance, in addition to the classic bikesharing that counts 10,000 users daily.

Within the administration, many different divisions are involved in the reflection: Mobility, Labor, Culture, Sport and Urbanistic, in a logic of high engagement, internal comparison and integration of approaches, visions and activities; the interconnection among different divisions is related to a still rooted pro-people orientation. In addition, the municipality has established a group of external consultants, experts on innovation and sharing economy, in order to have professional support, and it has also involved international advisors like April Rinne. Recognizing the need to train staff and to collaborate with experts on the topic is considered one of the basic preconditions to starting a useful discourse on the concept of the sharing city.

The incitements that the City has wisely and skillfully collected run in parallel with its internal address, already voted to social innovation as a means to promote social inclusion. They are in line with broader projects that go under the label of Milan Smart City. In the ranking of Italian Smart City of Forum PA 2015, Milan is in first place and, as seen, the city has all the necessary infrastructure to be regarded as such. Not to mention the PA’s ability to connect institutions, people, universities and associations, through the creation of six thematic working groups corresponding to the six pillars of Smart Cities (a classification of the University of Vienna): Smart Economy, Smart Living, Smart Environment, Smart Mobility, Smart People, Smart Governance, plus a table dedicated to EXPO. The local government believes that only through an ongoing dialogue and exchange with its communities of practice it is possible to create a smart, green and inclusive city. Only through cooperation between the public, private and civic sector can Milan compete at national and European level to become a benchmark for innovation and sustainability. Using the words of Galliano, the city can be considered a Human Smart City, a label that stresses the importance given to the human factor rather than one of technology, which remains an enabling element but not the ultimate goal. At international level, the city is already active member of the major European and global networks dealing with Smart Cities and, at local level, the Municipality and Chamber of Commerce are engaged in the creation of stable partnerships among different realities, in the fields of research, social innovation, business and finance. Milan has recently becomes part of the project “100 Resilient cities”25 promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) addressed to help cities around the world to become more resilient in responding to physical, economic and social challenges.

In this paper is not possible to describe or even name all the initiatives that the city is supporting or proposing itself (Green City, 100in1day project, BookCity, Fuori Salone, Expo in Città, etc.). The vibrant dynamism that is going through the municipality, the nonprofit sector, citizens, and innovative businesses fuels an incredible network devoted to participation, collaboration, inclusion, social cohesion, public-private-civic cooperation, strong public engagement, active citizenship, and also perspectives of economic development and hope for a better future." ([email protected])