The Municipality of Bergamo, with the help of the CST, launched a triple-helix participatory process to submit a revised detailed neighbourhood plan to Città Alta residents, aiming to respond to their needs and enhance the area.
Problems and Purpose
The Municipality of Bergamo involved the research team of the CST (Centro studi sul territorio, of the University of Bergamo) for the launch of a participatory process with the aim of submitting to the inhabitants (residents and city-users) a revision of the Detailed Plan of Città Alta, aimed at responding to their needs while also promoting the enhancement of the territorial potential of the city's historic center.
The participatory process used a "Triple Helix" development model, based on the interaction between University, Public Administration and the private sector. Given the presence of the University in the historical fabric since 1968, it was successful not only in coping with the trivialization of tourism but also, and above all, in determining the social and cultural dynamism capable of keeping alive the sense of urbanity and belonging to the places requested by the residents.
Background History and Context
Città Alta is the part of the historic city of Bergamo situated on the hills (from 320 to 460 meters above sea level compared to the 250 meters of the Lower City) and surrounded by Venetian walls (XVI century - Unesco Heritage). It is currently a village and historic center, a place of identity, and a tourist attraction. The area encompasses the University, various cultural buildings, prestigious historic palaces and gardens, vegetable gardens, and commercial and hospitality activities. The population since 1936 (86,700 inhabitants) has grown like all urban centers in Northern Italy, transforming the Bergamo countryside into a portion of the vast Milanese megalopolis. Since 1971 (128,000 inhabitants), growth has stabilized in the municipal area (121,700 in 2019).
Since the late 1960s, due to the presence of the University and the will of the inhabitants, the Upper Town has undergone several redevelopment, restoration and protection interventions that make it a rapidly growing tourist destination. However, various problematic axes lie ahead: the aging of the resident population, hit-and-run tourism, the spread of private and short-term rentals, the trivialization of trade, the rise in rents, the precariousness of the neighborhood, problems linked to mobility and overcrowding, and the vast real estate assets owned by the Church.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Municipality of Bergamo was the organizer of the procedure and co-promoter along with the University of Bergamo, of the detailed plan of Città Alta and Borgo Canale and of the associated participatory path. The amount of funding made available by the Municipality and which human resources have been mobilized is not known.
University of Bergamo, CST (Centro studi sul territorio): Diathesis Lab is an interdisciplinary university research center coordinated by geography professor, Emanuela Casti. The group involved in the project included, in addition to the coordinator, 4 experienced academics (geographers and urban planners), 4 computer programmers and engineers, 2 curators of communication and video products, and 3 collaborators and PhD students. The agreed financial contribution is not available, nor are the terms of agreement and assignment.
Edoomark Srl is a social enterprise based in Bergamo which deals with training, education, communication, and marketing. For the Città Alta project, it used Spazio Giovani (website and social network), thereby taking care of involving young people and students, stimulating contributions and proposals from them.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The public was involved live and online, through the platform and dedicated video-conferences. At first, there were public presentation meetings and workstations set up in public spaces, which were open to all interested:
- the first meeting, on 21/1 (8:30-10pm) at Palazzo Frizzoni (municipal office in the Lower Town) was dedicated to presenting the process to the coordination of the district committees of Bergamo; 
- the second meeting, on 30/1 (6-7pm), at the Angelo Mai Civic Library, in Piazza Vecchia (Upper Town), for a more general public and specifically those residing or working in the Upper Town; no photos or reports are available; 
- fixed position (12/2 at 9-11am) at the Civic Library, for support regarding the use of the platform and for information. It is unclear whether this position is ongoing or was only for the indicated day; no photos or reports on the activities carried out are available. 
Meetings were also organized for selected categories and with modest modalities:
- focus group (15/2 at 10-12) at the Civic Library, for which the purpose and participants are not indicated, nor are any reports given 
- meeting with university students (19/2 at 16-17), for which the purpose is not indicated and reports are not provided. 
From the end of February, the scheduled meetings and focus groups were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From that moment, online modes were activated:
- Skype meeting with university students (11/3 at 15-16), for which no purpose or report is available, 
- All the other appointments scheduled in March and April (16), whether they were focus groups or fixed, were not indicated as "suspended" or "postponed", but they fall during the period of confinement, which was especially difficult in Bergamo. It is also assumed that they did not occur because there are no reports or evidence of them.
There is a video report on the focus group of 16/3 (not included in the original program) with the students of the “Secco Suarto” high school. The number of students involved is not known nor is who led the discussion and organized the event.
Through the Spazio Giovani side project, high school students were involved. They have made videos and posts, such as the tutorial explaining the project and helping residents to answer the questionnaire , the promotional video, Che spot — Che classe  and Che mappa.
It is unknown how many participated in the questionnaire submitted online, which was promoted through the website and social networks (e.g. Facebook) through videos made by the students.
Through the webGIS mapping, 92 contributions were received.
Methods and Tools Used
Focus group: A common way to bring together a group of people and start a discussion with them around a desired theme, thanks to the conduct of a moderator who stimulates the discussion and ensures that everyone can express their opinion. Through this methodology, it is possible to collect different opinions, stimulate a comparison between different positions, and explore different points of view or reach an agreement. To facilitate the discussion, participants can use post-its, maps, and sheets, which allow those who are not comfortable speaking in public to express their opinions and those who have difficulty summarizing to reflect on the concepts they want to express. Focus groups typically host 12-14 participants.
Survey: The survey technique is common to classic social science and statistical tools. The method of use is very varied and in continuous development with technological innovation. Today it is possible to carry out survey campaigns, inviting participants to fill in online surveys and collect data immediately and automatically. In this case, an online questionnaire was administered, which could be filled in through the platform or in the pre-established positions (civic library) at set times.
PpWebGIS (Participatory Web Geographic Information System): These are georeferenced information platforms, which use a base map (in this case, from Google Earth, or in other cases, the open source ones of OSM, Open Street Map). The base maps can then be circumscribed to delimited areas of the territory, provide further information, and allow contributions of users through special forms for sending reports that may contain texts or other multimedia formats, and spaces for comments and interactions. The individual reports can then be positioned on the map with points and assigned categories which are displayed on the map with easy-to-understand icons (e.g. bicycle for local mobility issues; bus for public transport). Furthermore, it is possible to entrust a certain degree of interactivity to each report, from “likes / dislikes”, as in this case, to discussions.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The most intense phase of the process (March-April 2020) fell within the period of confinement and quarantine due to COVID-19. Almost all the appointments have been suspended or postponed. However, it is not indicated when they would be postponed. The calendar is out of date. The home page of the site reads “Città Alta Plurale continues… the participatory process does not give up! [translated]”. However, it is not said when and how it will continue.
The only updates from which the genesis and status of the route can be deduced are 3 videos:
- An accurate video presentation of the project with clips, archive images, panoramic shots, a computerized rendering of the building in 3D, and analysis of the quantity of connections to the wi-fi control units (in order to estimate the mobility of individuals);
- a video dedicated to wi-fi connections, detected throughout the month of February to represent mobility with a temporal dynamic;
- a video that summarizes the result of the virtual focus group (no remote connection tools are provided) of 16/3 with the students of the “Suarto” high school (date not scheduled in the calendar). In this very succinct video, the questions (translated to English) were: "In the Upper Town many buildings are empty or unused; how can you enhance them?" and “La Corsarola (the main street of the Upper Town) is too crowded. Where should the flows move?" On the basis of these stimuli, the response that appears is the students' idea to use a little-used building to move visitors to other streets in the Upper Town, offering a musical café near the Donizetti Museum in via Arena.
From a visit to the Facebook page, other videos emerge that are not shown on the site, such as a video report of the February 15th focus group. The participants are not indicated. The questions reported were: “How can we exploit many unused spaces in the Upper Town?”; “Are the hills of Bergamo Upper Town?”; “What collaboration is possible between residents and students?”;“Should we connect stairways and pedestrian paths to the public and private transport system?”
However, even on Facebook, the updates stop at 5/5/20. In addition to what can be seen on the site, there are some videos produced by Spazio Giovani, a side project managed in a more autonomous way. The young people have created short tutorial videos in which the project is promoted and young people are invited to contribute ideas, it is explained how the platform is used to send proposals and reports through the WebGIS map, or how to fill in the questionnaire is shown.
The following results emerged from the questionnaire: 
- the connection / rooting between the Upper and Lower Towns is preferred in the direction towards the railway station;
- the majority (62%) want to increase parking spaces and at the same time close access to private vehicles (38%);
- that the accommodation offer should be oriented towards tourists residing for long periods;
- that the Upper Town is promoted as a Citadel of Culture;
- that unused or popular buildings in the Upper Town be redeveloped towards students and young couples.
At the heart of the process is participatory mapping (PPWebGIS) developed by the CST staff. To send a contribution and timely report, one must must register and log in. The reports present are divided into 5 categories, including mobility (e.g. "danger in via Sudorno, children risk being overwhelmed at the exit of the school gate") or on cultural / environmental promotion (e.g. "Promotion of the landscape of stone, to create visits inside the prison, not the banal visits typical of tourist sites but more horror-style experiences") There are currently 92 reports (as of 2/8/20). The most voted with 40 "likes" and 5 "dislikes" is "Remove the traffic of private cars from the upper city by enhancing access by public transport”  Next, with 34 “likes”, was "Creating accommodation in the unused classrooms of the seminar”, followed by “Stop the consumption of land which reduces the scenic beauty of the Upper Town!" with 21 "likes."  There are no particularly conflicting proposals. The only one at the moment seems to be the proposal to organize visits to the former prison of Sant'Agata in a horror style that has obtained 13 "likes" and 10 "dislikes"; given the potential for conflict, it has not been clear how these conflicting positions will be elaborated.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The project is not completed but has produced, despite the confinement for Covid 19, various contributions, but it is unknown what the future path is for them, as well as their channeling into priority actions and the possible resolution of the potential conflict of some of them.
Know what influence and effects this initiative had? Help us complete this section!
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Dissemination of the project focuses on visual communication, image, video and infographics of maps and tables. Minutes and reports do not exist. The videos available, however, are lacking in terms of fulfilling an essential reporting function capable of restoring adequate transparency to a process of public discussion and decision. Furthermore, the costs of involving the CST and the method of assignment are not given.
Sharing the process with local actors seems to have taken place, but only with the neighborhood committees. Less clear is the contribution of key players such as traders, trade unions, and environmental associations or spontaneous committees. The influence, thanks to the presence of the university actor who acts as "guarantor", can be seen as more promising, but this is not to be taken for granted. It is necessary to see if it will be possible to broaden the representativeness, and involve non-residents to enhance the impact of the process and bring out clear and sustained volitions.
University of Bergamo, CST (Centro studi sul territorio)
 Città Alta Plurale. Il Progetto. Accessed 2/8/20, https://cittaaltaplurale.unibg.it/progetto.php
 Città Alta Plurale. Il Team. Accessed 2/8/20, https://cittaaltaplurale.unibg.it/team.php
 Città Alta Plurale. Calendario eventi. Accessed 2/8/20. https://cittaaltaplurale.unibg.it/calendario.php
 Diathesis Diathesis. (2020, Feb 24). Che tutorial Residenza, Accessed 2/8/20, https://www.youtube.com/watch...
 Che Classe. (2020, Feb 17). Che Spot. Città Alta Plurale. Accessed 2/8/2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PpPr...
 Diathesis Diathesis. (2020, Feb 24). Che tutorial Mappa. Accessed 2/8/2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch...
 Spazio Giovani, Accessed 2/8/2020, https://www.edoomark.com/socialmentegiovani/
 Città Alta Plurale. Statistiche. Accessed 2/8/20, https://cittaaltaplurale.unibg.it/stats.php
 Città Alta Plurale. Tabella delle segnalazioni. Accessed 2/8/20, https://cittaaltaplurale.unibg.it/tableRiepilogo.php
Videos with archive images, video overviews, photos and renderings, effectively summarizing the geographical and urban context, as well as the recent historical evolution of the area with current problems.
Home page of the municipal website