In recent years the city have been rethought more and more smart, or as communities based on the active participation of citizens and which make the efficiency of services, digitization and greater attention to the environment and the circular economy their key elements. In this context Milan keeps pace and in some cases surpasses other large European cities thanks to the growing investment in technological infrastructureon the smart mobility and on citizen participation in a digital key. It is underlined by the Smart City Booklet 2023 processed by Study Center of Assolombarda and Ey, now in its sixth edition, which measures and tells the case of Milan compared with five other European cities (Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich). The analysis was conducted through 95 indicators grouped into three areas of analysis: digital infrastructures for resilience; the networks for environmental sustainability and the digital and smart services and uses of the city.
At the top for sustainable mobility and separate waste collection
As regards the first area, the both landline and mobile connectivity it is largely developed in Milan and in the benchmark cities. In particular, the city of Milan, together with Barcelona, has long since achieved total coverage of households with broadband and ultrabroadband and also has good coverage 5G, equal to 95%. On the other hand, the Lombard capital is not at the top of the ranking in terms of connection performance, despite registering strong improvements. Indeed, although connection speed has increased by 25% in the last ten months, landline downloads are still 40% slower than in Barcelona and mobile network downloads are still 50% slower than in Amsterdam.
Still on the infrastructural front, Milan is investing heavily in sensors for data collection. In fact, of the 19 areas monitored in the Booklet (from sharing mobility to smart metering of energy and water networks, up to intelligent public lighting), the presence of sensors is noted in 17 areas, the highest diffusion together with that of Barcelona. In the second area, relating to networks for environmental sustainabilitythe Lombard capital has some records, particularly in sustainable mobility, with the highest share among the benchmarks of low emission vehicles (equal to 12.6%); in the'public lighting, with a number of LED light points equal to 112,000 per million inhabitants compared to just 20,000 in Paris; finally, in the waste sortingwith 62.5% of waste sent for recycling, a double share of that of Berlin and almost three times higher than that of Paris.
Areas for improvement
At the same time, according to the survey, there are other areas in which Milan shows growing investments, even though it is not positioned at the top of the benchmark cities: this is the case with the increase in the number of charging stations for electric cars, which today are five times those of 2017, but still remain a tenth of those counted in Amsterdam. Also there district heating network is on the rise, while still being one-fifth that of Berlin's top performer. Finally, the most critical point refers to the air quality. Milan is in fact first in the benchmark for the level of concentration of suspended particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2). Another point of weakness is related to water losseswith the Lombard capital recording the highest percentage, after Barcelona, of the total volumes placed on the network (13.8%).
The research also highlights how the smart city represents an enabling factor for diffusion of smart working. The latter is confirmed as a widespread practice in Milan, as confirmed by the data monitored by Google on travel for work reasons, still about a fifth lower than pre-Covid, and a recent survey by Assolombarda, according to which 64% of companies offer smart working to their employees (an almost double share compared to 2019).
The focus on digital engagement
Finally, the survey focuses on the provision of digital services which, after the pandemic, has become an essential component of the overall offer of cities. In this regard, Milan offers the e-welfare platform most advanced among the benchmark cities. WeMi aggregates the offer of welfare services provided by the municipality of Milan and by a selected network of associations, cooperatives and social enterprises in the area. The user can filter the services by category and obtain all the relative information (supplier, cost, counter opening hours and case processing times).
For the first time the Booklet also focuses on digital engagement strategies and dialogue with citizens and the other city users implemented in the large cities analysed. These strategies include social networks in the first place, together with digital platforms that stimulate participation in city decisions. Based on the survey, Milan and the other benchmark cities all offer platforms dedicated to the participation of city users. Just as the social channels for communication used by the municipality are achieving good results, with Instagram being the fastest growing (plus 16% the number of followers in a year).