What we found out
Project objectives Tweet
If technology isn’t for you and you don’t understand it, DigiPASS is what you need. DigiPASS are, in fact, buildings where you can find digital facilitators ready to help you with any problem related to the Internet you might face. They are free and open to everyone: citizens, companies, assiociations or schools. Among other things, the experts of Assisi will help you enrol your child in school, create your SPID identity or simply pay for something online. Among the wide range of services they offer there are also different computers with an Internet connection. The Umbria region decided to implement this project through FESR funds (European funds for regional development), through which twelve buildings were converted into twelve DigiPASS scattered around twelve cities of Umbria, among which the city of Assisi. The birth of this service is based on a fundamental problem: there is a huge gap between those who know how to use technology and those who don’t. Nowadays not knowing how to use digital devices results in not being able to access many public services.
The design of DigiPASS Assisi took a semester. Eleven other projects for a total of twelve different DigiPASS were also made, taking into consideration the different needs of the twelve cities that were involved in the project. The funds destined for DigiPASS Assisi (€ 232.394,59 of which € 228.299,37 of Cohesion funds) were used in different ways: according to a document provided by Stefano Rossi (local representative for Comune di Assisi) and the answers of regional official Andrea Castellani, 20% of the funds were used by the municipality for the renovation of an already existing building to adapt it to DigiPASS use, 30% was used for the purchase of devices and technical products and 50% was destined to the organization of free events.
The project was financed by the European funds of the FESR program 2014-2020. The transition that led to the funding was the desire to fill the digital criticalities and the digital divide of citizens. City council member Michele Fioroni, during our interview in Regione Umbria, underlined how the territory in which the project operates, Assisi, had a gap between people who could use the Internet independently (mostly young people) and those who were not able (usually older people). The Umbria region thought to fill this gap with the project “DigiPASS Assisi”.
The beneficiaries of the DigiPASS Assisi services are people and companies who find it difficult to use the technology, schools and training agencies that want to organize training with the help of cultural associations of the territories and the self-employed who can take advantage of spaces temporarily available on a co-working mode.
According to Istat data, in 2017 Assisi, compared to other cities, had a lower percentage of people who used the Internet daily. After the project was completed the percentage of people who used the Internet in Assisi increased compared to the average number of people who used it in Italy.
In an interview with the Umbria region on February 15 2023, regional official Andrea Castellani and the director of the service Sabrina Paolini stated that the DigiPASS project has been concluded for some time. There are 12 other projects that, regardless of different timelines, have also been completed.
Thanks to Istat we could also analyze different data and found out that in 2017 in Umbria only 46% of people used the Internet daily. Instead in 2021, after the project was completed, the percentage rose to 62%. According to regional official Andrea Castellani, DigiPASS Assisi also organizes events in the territory in order to involve more people and increase digital competences among the population of Assisi.
Although there were many positive aspects, we also found some problems. First of all, as emerged from a poll we created and spread around the school of Liceo Properzio of Assisi, the project is not much known around the area.
Another problem is that the elderly who need it the most are usually less involved because they are not aware of the project, in fact it is little advertised towards this age group.
Finally the city council member Michele Fioroni declared that he is not fully satisfied with the project because they are still far from the idea of modern innovation they had and they would like to go beyond simple social inclusion.
Within the project we have found and appreciated many positive aspects: the scheduled times were respected and the project also achieved positive results such as the increase in the use of the Internet in the affected area. Moreover, collecting information about the project was easy thanks to the willingness to collaborate of the different institutions we involved.
There might be some risks for the future of the project since, if poorly advertised, the service might also remain quite unknown to some, especially to those who need it most like the elderly.
Ideas and solutions
The project is overall effective and had good results on the population of Assisi but we can do more. To ensure that the project is known and used by as many people as possible, one of the activities that could be carried out is surely leafleting: DigiPASS is intended to help people who, by interfacing with technology, have problems of various kinds. Obviously, the advertising of the service cannot be done only through social media because the elders, a group of people who occupy the majority of customers, do not use it. Another way to spread the functionality of the project is to organize events where young people and DigiPASS employees offer elderly people the opportunity to interface with the digital world.
Results and Impact of the monitoring
Dissemination of results
- Team blog / website
- Requests for private hearings or meetings
- Media interviews
- City council member, Regione Umbria
- Regional official, Regione Umbria
- Regional official, Regione Umbria
- Digital facilitator, DigiPASS Assisi
- Representative, Municipality of Assisi
- Representative, Regione Umbria
- Representative, Europe Direct Umbria
- Representative, Istat
- Representative, Istat
- Newspaper, Corriere dell'Umbria
Contacts with media outlets
- Local newspapers
- Blog or other online news outlet
Contacts with public administration
- Generic answer
Description of the case
We presented our civic monitoring during an online event about Cohesion Policies organized by Regione Umbria and we gave some solutions to the few problems we found about the project. The regional officials we interviewed at Regione Umbria promised to improve the results of the project with the next FESR program 2021-2027.
How was the information collected?
- Web research
- Visit to the project's location, documented by pictures or videos
- Interview with the Managing Authority of the Programme which financed the project
- Interview with people responsible for the project's planning
- Interview with political leaders
In order to have more information about the project we are monitoring, we interviewed Andrea Castellani, regional official contact for the DigiPASS Assisi, Michele Fioroni, city council member, and Sabrina Paolini, manager of the service that deals with DigiPASS Assisi.
We asked the digital facilitator of DigiPASS Assisi Stefano Cortopassi for information on the users of the service and, although we couldn’t get information about the users for privacy matters, we could analyze the frequency of use and the most used services of DigiPASS Assisi. We also contacted the local representative for Comune di Assisi Stefano Rossi, who gave us payment data that showed us how the funds were used.
To learn how to make graphs and search for data we contacted ISTAT representatives, Carla Rubbo and Michela Ciaffarafà.
To the city council member Michele Fioroni we asked:
1) “What were the main reasons for the project?”
2) “Will it end here or will you expand later?”
To the regional official Andrea Castellani we asked:
1) “Was there any market research prior to the project?”
2) “How was the project advertised?”
To the director of the service Sabrina Paolini we asked:
1) “How will you possibly keep the project running?”
2) “The Opencohesion page does not show the end date. If the project is finished, when did this happen? If it is not finished, how do you intend to continue and when?”
1) “The main reasons that led to the realization of the project was the age gap between people who do not know how to use digital services correctly and those who are used to it.”
2) “They have implemented an acceleration programme of enterprises in which they have incubated regional resources. They would like to take young people’s ideas for business and give them the possibility to realize them.”
1) “The City council member carried out a market research prior to the project, traveling to large cities such as Seattle and San Francisco to be able to subsequently start the project in our country.”
2) “The project was spread through online advertising and billboards scattered around Perugia and surroundings.”
1) “From the 2014-2020 program we move on to the 2021-2027 program: the programming is consecutive and we take the good from the old to evolve it.”
2) “The project has been over for some time. Some projects are lagging behind but DigiPASS Assisi was completed by June 2023 despite the date not being entered. There are 12 projects, there is a time gap but they are all completed.”