Sassari Living Lab is an online and face-to-face participatory platform for solving city problems, where to promote concrete responses to the needs of society by stimulating, informing and involving citizens, who thus become an active part of the entire process
Problems and purpose
Sassari Living Lab is an online and face-to-face participatory platform for solving city problems, where to promote concrete responses to the needs of society by stimulating, informing and involving citizens, who thus become an active part of the entire process. A dynamic place to carry out the strategy of the city and the redevelopment of the historic center.
Sassari Living Lab is an initiative promoted by the Municipality of Sassari, with the aim of finding new solutions to the problems of the city by promoting a participatory process that involves citizens, institutions, businesses, associations, research bodies and public administration (Link 1).
The process is divided into the following phases:
- Mapping of needs Together with the citizens, an analysis was carried out on the needs of the neighborhood, so as to identify the issues on which to focus during the experiments.
- Public Notice. The innovative ideas capable of generating social impact will be selected through the Public Notice and the most interesting ones can be transformed into Pilot Projects on which to activate the Living Lab.
- Partnership. Public actors, third sector entities, private subjects will be able to actively participate in this experimentation, becoming part of the Living Lab Partner Catalog.
- Living Lab. Open innovation laboratory. The needs and challenges that emerged in the previous phases will come to life and will find a solution thanks to a process of citizen experimentation that will see the involvement of the municipality, universities and businesses. (Link 1 - Phases and objectives).
History and background context
The project was born within the regional operational programs (POR) supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The ITI (Integrated Territorial Investments) is the tool to support the implementation of the Urban Agenda strategy desired by the European Commission for the period 2014-2020. It is supported by ROPs financed with Community resources from the ESF and the ERDF.
Urban Agenda is the Plan launched by the European Commission to support cities that today find themselves dealing with problems and challenges that concern in particular poverty, social hardship, demographic changes, immigration and architectural and environmental recovery.
The ITI tool aims to ensure the implementation of a transversal strategy in a given urban context by overcoming administrative divisions and giving centrality and role to the local subjects who inhabit that context.
The key elements of an ITI are:
- an integrated and intersectoral development strategy applied to a given territory;
- a package of initiatives consistent with the development objectives of the territorial strategy;
The management and implementation of an ITI passes through a governance agreement, that is a system of rules that defines the procedures for governing the project, in which the local subjects responsible for its implementation are identified.
The ITI allows to achieve a series of advantages:
- promotes the integrated use of funds;
- empowers local actors;
- offers greater certainty of the destination / finalization of funds;
- uses an approach to development based on territory and participation (Link 2).
The strategy of the Municipality of Sassari.
The ITI Sassari Storica consists of 6 thematic actions that contribute to the achievement of the various objectives, including the "re-centralization of the historic center", through the activation of a virtuous process on an urban scale to contrast the marginality of all the suburbs , to the advantage of the whole city.
und-color: transparent; "> The real challenge for the regeneration policies and projects of the historic center is to ensure that it regain its centrality, on the one hand, without transferring marginality elsewhere and, on the other, building the conditions for a lasting reconquest that prevents phases of recovery from alternating with phases of degradation.
The actions are:
1. Promote social innovation through flexible and multidimensional initiatives capable of preventing hardship and supporting autonomy and social inclusion;
2. Sustainable regeneration of the Old Civic Market;
3. Enhancement of the tradition and role of the candlesticks for the socio-economic requalification of the lower part of the historic center of Sassari;
4. Redevelopment and enhancement of the Rosello Valley at the service of the San Donato district through integrated interventions of environmental protection and social inclusion;
5. Business culture and active inclusion;
6. Participatory process (Link 2).
The project envisages an integrated urban regeneration intervention of the so-called “partebassa” of the historic center of Sassari with particular regard to the districts of San Donato, Sant'Apollinare and some adjacent areas, such as the Rosello Valley.
The problems affecting these areas are the consequence of the strong urban expansion of the city and the progressive marginalization of the historic center. Today these areas present problems of architectural and urban decay, of social and economic hardship, of deviance and petty crime.
Citizens themselves have highlighted a series of problems which, if not adequately addressed, risk translating into economic, social, cultural and political exclusion.
The main problems are:
- the progressive physical and social deterioration of the historic center;
- the refusal by indigenous citizens to maintain their residence in this urban context;
- social unease and the sharp deterioration of relationships;
- the lack of forms of integration and meeting spaces between different cultures;
- the lack of cultural mediators.
The most effective response to these problems passes through integrated interventions of urban requalification and social and economic inclusion (Link 2).
Sassari is the second city of Sardinia, located at the north end, opposite Cagliari, has 126,000 inhabitants, with a metropolitan area that doubles them. It had a very rapid demographic growth until the early nineties; in 1936 it had 54,000 inhabitants and in '91, 122,339. The political tradition has Christian Democratic roots, with some socialist success between the mid-1980s and early 1990s. In recent decades, the center-left and center-right have alternated in command. From 2014 to 2019 Nicola Sanna was mayor, to whom we owe, in 2016, the signing of the program agreement with the Region for the start of this procedure and process.
Since 2019 he has been mayor Nanni Campus, doctor and former center-right parliamentarian.
Organization, support and financing
Regione Sardegna, POR-FESR, is the promoter and provider of European funds. A program agreement was signed between the Region and the Municipality of Sassari for integrated investments in historic Sassari in 2016.
Municipality of Sassari, ITI Sassari is the local authority that owns the integrated territorial investment program and therefore of the actions for the redevelopment of the historic center of Sassari that will emerge from the process.
Primaidea Consulting and Communication Srl and Giacomo B Foundationrodolini signed the reports and edited the tables with 4 coaches of the participated tables. Primaidea is based in Cagliari and carries out consultancy to local authorities, business consultancy, marketing, communication. The Brodolini Foundation is a private non-profit foundation committed to the definition, application, evaluation and dissemination of policies at all levels of government. It is based in Rome and in various cities around the world. The remuneration and procedures for the assignment of the assignment are not given.
Catalog of partner actors. “The Living lab partner catalog includes the partners who have signed up to participate in the co-design of new models, products and services for the historic center. The participating public and private partners represent the interests involved and previously mapped by the analysis "(Link 1 - What is). However, this catalog is not available at the moment because the process is still in progress and registration in the catalog concerns the phase of active participation in the innovative proposals selected for experimentation (release 25/8/20).
Recruitment and selection of participants
- Mapping of needs. It consists of the following activities:
- Context analysis (desk analysis). It is a survey of the actors present in the innovative social and entrepreneurial field. The work involved the consultants hired by the Municipality and the municipal staff. It served to have an overview but also to find the contacts (privileged witnesses) and the starting information to structure the subsequent investigation.
- Interviews with 30 privileged witnesses, The interviews carried out with the snowball technique, involved representatives of associations (cultural, social, neighborhood committees, etc.), administrative officials, university professors and teachers, managers of business premises in the historic center , event organizers, residents of the historic center.
- The questionnaires were distributed to 505 individuals (residents, citizens who participate in the activities of the historic center; contact persons of informal groups; members of voluntary, cultural, sports associations; traders; social entrepreneurs; representatives of trade unions; operators of public organizations and private); The questionnaire was prepared on the Survey Monkey platform and made available for compilation also in paper form. The questionnaire was administered in the period July - December 2019.
- Public presentation. The Sassari Living Lab was presented during the launch event which took place on Wednesday 11 December 2019, at 3.30 pm, in the Palazzo Infermeria San Pietro in Sassari. Introduced by the councilor for productive activities, Nicolò Lucchi Clemente, the phases of the project by Graziano Di Paola (Fond. G. Brodolini) and the results of the context analysis by Damiano Razzoli (Fond. G. Brodolini) were illustrated . An intervention by the councilor for programming and technological innovation, Gabriele Mulas, was also foreseen. G. Di Paola and Raimondo Schiavone (Primaidea Srl) moderated the meeting. During the event, the second phase of the project was also launched, which sees the creation of four thematic tables. The Mayor Campus was also present (welcome greetings).
- Participatory thematic tables. Led by 4 coaches (probably belonging to the Primaidea and / or Fondazione G. Brodolini consultants), 4 thematic tables from February to June 2020. In attendance, only one first meeting was held, after which, due to Covid confinement, they were held with videos conference. The place of the first meeting is not given, nor the number and categories of participants.
- Public notice of presentation of pilot projects. On 6 July 2020, the opening of the sending of proposals to be submitted for the selection of the 10 pilot projects is announced, which will be accompanied by a mentoring, prototyping, coaching path, up to accompanying the market and fund research. The notice is aimed at private actors, public bodies and individual citizens who can send proposals until 1 September. They must be described according to the forms available on the site and asking for clarification from a Help desk with a telephone number, made available by the Brodolini Foundation. The selection of the projects is entrusted to an RTI (editor's note the meaning of this acronimo) appointed by the Municipal Administration. The notice is addressed to everyone, therefore not only to those who have participated in the previous tables.
- Living Lab. It concerns the development phase of the pilot projects which will start in September 2020 and therefore has not yet started (ril. 25/8/20).
Methods and tools used
Mapping. The usual mapping processes involve researchers, clients and reliable, documentary, direct (inspections) or testimonial sources. These are mappings of human activities and therefore locations of stable activities (eg associations, companies, cultural institutes, bodies, production and commercial activities), temporary (markets, fairs, parties, events) or mobile (traffic, vehicles, social phenomena, etc. .). On the other hand, participatory mapping, in addition to the aforementioned sources, also involves an audience, both with direct meetings (eg community maps) and through online tools (WebPPGIS).
Semi-structured interviews with privileged witnesses. Classic social research tool, it focuses on the qualitative aspects of information and leaves more space for the interviewee's free interpretation. In this case, the interview protocol is divided into four parts: a) Profile of the interviewee (background, activities carried out, relationship with Sassari); b) Themes, emerging social needs of the neighborhood and expectations related to the activation of the Living Lab; c) Evaluation of the territorial characteristics: subjects, spaces, activities that can play a key role for the future of the historic center; d) Levers of development, transformation and perception of the sense of place. The privileged witnesses were identified after a first list selected on the basis of the analysis of the documentary data and from the interviews with the client, through the so-called 'snowball' method / random sampling. Each interviewee is asked for further contacts until reaching the desired number of interviews or the saturation of the topics investigated.
Questionnaires. The questionnaire has long been the top tool of social research and its results have played a strategic role in public communication. The tool that was able to transform human phenomena, attitudes and behaviors into aggregate numbers and statistics had and still has a great impact on social perceptions and debates. In this case it has been structured according to the classic closed / multiple question typology to facilitate accessibility and timeliness of compilation and collection. In this case, the questions in the questionnaire focused on the citizens' relationship with the historic center, on the perception of the sense of place and attachment to it, on the assessment of needs and of the themes to regenerate it. The structure of the questionnaire was composed as follows:
a) Question 1-2: deepen the interactions between citizens and the historic center (frequency, motivation, etc.)
b) Question 3-5: perception of the sense of place in terms of attachment, identity and dependence on the historic center of Sassari
c) Question 6-7: evaluation of the themes, social needs and emerging transformation levers of the historic center, based on the results that emerged from the context analysis and from the interviews with privileged witnesses.
Participating tables. We mean focus groups, very common ways 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 is called to stimulate the discussion and verify 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, you can resort to the use of 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 which is the fundamental concept they want to express. Focus groups typically host 12-14 participants. Lately they are also organized online, with videoconferencing tools equipped with various functions of interactions, including non-verbal ones, to make remote communications a little more efficient.
Living Lab. Thi design laboratorynking. It is a co-design laboratory where the group of proponents, selected after an initial phase, is supported by experts, selected on the basis of the type of project, up to their accompaniment to the market and / or to the search for funds. A similar workshop on a different theme / objective was organized in Capannori with the Circularicity project in 2017.
What happened: process, interaction and participation
Context analysis and mapping. In the first phase, through online searches (web pages, google maps and social channels) with keywords and through a reading of documents such as the 2017 Social Report of the Municipality, in addition to the recognition of the territorial actors, the aim was in particular to find the most innovative, such as co-working, places of open innovation (as defined by the researchers of the G. Brodolini Foundation): 9 of these are present in Sassari (eg the FabLabs of the University of Sassari which are also open to contributions and collaborations outdoor spaces or QuodCafé, MindGarden or Le Api, coworking spaces, innovation, design, self-production workshops, etc.). 
Interviews. Four main macro-themes emerged from the interviews:
- The problems of the historical center of Sassari; pe "✓ The urban transformation has affected the perception of the Center / Periphery relationship with respect to the areas of the city" The transfer of a series of businesses to a peripheral industrial area transformed into a commercial area has gradually attracted entrepreneurial activities that were first established in the historic center, which has gradually lost not only the frequentation of people, but also its identity, so historically linked to both trade and the agricultural dimension. " → This has also brought with it the decentralization of municipal offices and the abandonment of numerous buildings ”. 
- The emerging needs that need to be answered in order to trigger a process of change; eg "Huge patrimony of multipurpose public spaces, but closed or not accessible, with different intended uses not fully exploited (eg Ex-Slaughterhouse, Oratorio di San Donato, Fontana del Rosello):" Tourists would like to see the Fontana del Rosello but it is always closed; we catch in them dissatisfaction and disorientation ». 
- The resources present within the historic center and on which to leverage to favor virtuous paths of social innovation; pe Both personal and collective living historical memory, rooted in people albeit frustrated; in particular, people are nostalgic for the historic center they have experienced. «I remember it was going to the market, with all that confusion; it is part of me, a reference from which we could start over ». 
- The practical design proposals that you would like to implement within the Living Lab. For Designing an artisans' neighborhood that can also be a training school for children, so as to make children re-appropriate the manual and artisan aspect, fight unemployment and provide cultural aggregators. "The recovery of via Mercato with the shopkeepers of the past played by actors, young elderly citizens, can be a first step to bring the crafts of the past back to the center of the city economy". 
From the interviews, the researchers pointed out sharply the divergences in the perceptions of problems and priorities between residents in the historic center for which physical requalification is pre-eminent with those of traders and associations, for which attention to social regeneration is more important and the solution of problems affecting their activities. Furthermore, the residents have not yet perceived the activation of the Living Lab process, while the associations feel more engaged. 
Questionnaires. From the more than 500 questionnaires collected, a fairly representative picture of the Sassari populations was obtained.  Data are provided such as frequentation of the historic center, eg 60% go to the center more than once a week and to spend free time and enjoy commercial activities. However, another divergence emerges, a historical center that is lived but “not very much felt”. The places they are most fond of are the squares, the nineteenth-century part and the upper part of Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  Three main problems emerge: identity deprivation, the emptying of traditional commercial activities, physical degradation, and the perceived void of the Municipality's initiatives, including the process itself.  We need redevelopment of buildings and greenery and the organization of events. The proposals then concern the regeneration of sociality (eg bringing commerce back to the center), urban planning (eg partial pedestrianization, ZTL, new lighting) and security (eg neighborhood police, increased police checks). 
Participating tables. Identified on the basis of the analysis resulting from the previous activities, 4 tables were conducted from May to June 2020, both in person and remotely: Table 1 - Innovation and entrepreneurial and craft activities • Table 2 - Urban Spaces: sociability, viability, mobility • Table 3 - Services to the person: community spaces integration • Table 4 - Identity and cultural activities. At first the basic requirements that the action to be designed must meet emerged: The requirements, which were not taken for granted, were that it had to be "something" that was:
1. feasible only in the historic center, as it is intimately linked to its spaces, architecture and its history;
2. able to conquer a wide interest, beyond the Sassari;
3. expression of Sassari culture and therefore credible;
4. not in conflict with the identity of other cities in Sardinia;
5. intended to produce broad involvement among citizens;
6. characterized by innovative methods (technology and tradition together);
7. feasible, initially, in the form of a prototype to be expanded over time. 
Then the basic elements emerged to build the Vision: eg that Sassari is known for the Cionfra (a way of relating, carefree, provocative, playful, made in the street) or the notoriety for the performing arts (music, dance, theater) , white nights, prestigious craftsmanship, technological avant-garde, multiculturalism. 
In table 2 in particular, two proposals are highlighted: material intervention on urban spaces, which has a limit of economic and temporal feasibility (one can think of a design made within 5 years, but it can also be a short-term project with low cost, to give input for a structural change) • intangible intervention useful to bring people to the center with a communication campaign that tells how the center is not a black hole, but is animated by commercial activities, in such a way as to trigger processes that lead to material intervention (see for example Piazza Tola, which was taken over by the citizens through a spontaneous movement that led to a restructuring).  Other proposals such as: an App that tells the story of the shops in the historic center, an urban theater festival, a cohousing for the elderly, a digital platform for sharing experiences, dynamic mapping of culture, digital archiving for subsequent use of the festival and its individual performances through digital media. The projects were able to have a good deepening for a substantial sharing that bodes well for their continuation as candidates for the Living Lab of elaboration.
Public notice of presentation of pilot projects. It was published on the sites of the ITI Sassari but there is no response to a communication campaign on traditional media.
The process is not finished.
Influence, results and effects
The process is not finished.
Analysis and lessons learned
Transparency is lacking as regards the financing of the process, the selection of conductors and the relative remuneration, furthermore there is a lack of number and type of participants at the tables. The initial phase is very accurate and has carried out a function of sharing the path and in part of soliciting the population to the process, making it known and identifying some conflictual nodes, which however are notbeen focused in the tables, going a little to disperse that acquisition. The communication and advertising campaign does not appear. The representativeness is quite high, even if there is no statistical comparison with the population data compared to the sample detected. No particular efforts appear to engage weak or unorganized actors. The process has not finished, at the moment the last phase must begin shortly (ril. 25/8/20).
 ITI Sassari Living Lab, Desk analysis report, (undated doc.), Https://www.itilabsassari.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/01_Analisi-di-contesto_analysis-desk_FINAL.pdf (release 25/8/20).
 ITI Sassari Living Lab, Report inverviste, (undated doc.), Https://www.itilabsassari.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/02_Report-Interviste_Analisi-Contesto_FINAL.pdf (ril. 25 / 8/20).
 ITI Sassari Living Lab, Report questionnaires, (undated doc.), Https://www.itilabsassari.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/03_Report-Analisi-Questionario_FINAL.pdf (ril. 25 / 8/20).
 ITI Sassari Living Lab, Report of participated tables, (undated doc.), Https://www.itilabsassari.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Da-pubblicare_Report-Finale_-Tavoli-Partecipativi_SSLL- Copy.pdf ( rel . 25/8/20).
- Municipality of Sassari, ITI Sassari Living Lab, https://www.itilabsassari.it/ (ril. 25/8/20).
- Municipality of Sassari, ITI Sassari Storica, http://www.comune.sassari.it/comune/iti_sassari_storica/iti_home.html (release 25/8/20).