In Casa della Cittá, a glass building that physically represents the transparency between the City of Rome and its citizens, Romans gathered on 21 January 2017 to take part in Italy‘s first Smartathon. Warming sunlight filled the exhibition space as citizens discussed the future of the smarticipate platform, sharing their concerns, ideas and needs with the project consortium.

The enthusiasm was palpable; despite being a Saturday, the discussion ran beyond the scheduled finish time. As with other Smartathons, opinions were varied, ranging from the sceptical to the favourable. Each intervention, regardless of outlook, was valuable to the overall development of the project.

After a series of presentations outlining smarticipate and the intended use of the smarticipate platform, attendees broke into four groups to discuss in greater detail.

Among the most prominent concerns was the idea that technology cannot replace human interaction, and that at some point automation must give way to person-to-person contact. Data privacy was also expressed as an issue, while others worried that certain users could hijack the planning process to push their ideas above all else, tarnishing the cooperative spirit in which the smarticipate platform is intended to be used.

Ear-pieces were used to facilitate translation between Italian and English, with locals and non-Italian speaking project partners discussing with the aid of interpreters.

The outcome of the discussions will be used to further refine the smarticipate platform, tweaking it from a technical and governance standpoint.

A video showcasing the event will be released shortly.