Opencantieri
Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Before setting up the existing platform “Opencantieri” www.opencantieri.mit.gov.it, data on public works were gathered and made accessible to the public through the platform “Cantieri Italia” available at http://cantieri.mit.gov.it/Pagine/home-page-ok.aspx . The aim of “Cantieri Italia” was to keep citizens informed about the progress of public works exclusively funded by the Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) starting from December 6, 2011. As a result, numerous interventions scattered throughout the entire Italian territory were not included in the platform. For this reason, even if “Cantieri Italia” represented a step towards transparency and simplification, having its data habitually updated on a quarterly basis, the platform offered to citizens only a limited view on the progress of infrastructural investments. Moreover, “Cantieri Italia” provided users with excessively technical and synthetic information, which was not always comprehensible to the whole community. A further major limitation of the platform, was that data were not made available in open mode and thus not usable and reusable by anyone. On the basis of the achieved results, emerged a strong need to promote a higher degree of data openness, sharing and transparency among citizens and the need to stimulate a new season of community involvement through the active and conscious participation of people in the public good. In this view, data held on the platform needed to be made completely accessible to and downloadable for everyone through a dedicated open data page on the website of the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports. Information in the platform was to be rendered understandable for everyone, including non-specialist, and also in an easy-to-interpret graphical format.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
1) Technological solutions have been adopted to assure the quality, accessibility, usability, issuing, reuse and interoperability of public data so as to encourage civic participation, social control and economic exploitation of public data. 2) It has been introduced a more complete and usable digital infrastructure, which has enabled the collection and dissemination of a larger number of data in open version, compliant to the standard DCAT-AP_IT and interoperable with national and European open data portals. In this way, thus a larger sample of works (32 “ priority” interventions within the 25 strategic works planned in Annex Infrastructure to DEF 2015 and 2016 (PIS), in addition to around 1,500 interventions on the road network and the rail infrastructure related to program contracts ANAS and RFI, and the construction sites in the port and airport areas). 3) Under "Opencantieri" was created a dashboard, so that anyone can easily monitor the progress of road works, railways, subways, interventions in ports and airports, by accessing different indicators and economic parameters and information located on the map.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
“Opencantieri” is a data integration platform and dashboard system that make easier to understand all the stages of contracting processing in public infrastructures: this can enable greater transparency and support accessible and in-depth analysis of the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, and integrity of all phases, from planning to implementation. 20 parameters combined into KPI’s to answer very simple questions such as: how much was the infrastructure supposed to cost and how much is it costing now? How much of the work has been performed until today, is there any delay and how much is it? How much of the work is being performed by subcontractors? What is the increase of the costs due to contract variations or modifications? And, last but not least, when the work is supposed to be finished and come into service. “Opencantieri” is not a repository or a database of contracting data. There are no tables or forms to be transmitted to the platform or data input web page to be filled online by contractors. Most of the work is in the backstage to implement a number of web services on data owners which automatically feed the platform when data change. All data are open and can be downloaded by citizens. At present all major Italian infrastructures are on the platform: railroads, motorways and state and regional streets, airports and ports, main subways and metro lines with nearly 2000 records. The specific result of “Opencantieri” at present, is to have layed the foundations of a robust and effective open data and a dashboard and indicator system that can accompany the whole construction of any public work. "Opencantieri" is open to all sectoral associations, citizens, economic entities who want to know, for different purposes, the state of progress of a work. Open Data contained in “Opencantieri” do not only serve to ensure transparency but also to economic development. One example is the possibility of extrapolating data on payments, allocated funding and on the progress of works in order to create regular reports of interest to a particular sector to be disseminated among members of sectoral associations. The question of payment times to firms is a serious problem that affects the entire chain of construction. In this perspective, the transparency of payment flows and a more timely publication of data on the big players of public works, is an important step forward for increasing accountability of the Public Administration.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Open data and transparency on investment in public infrastructure are the main features of "Opencantieri", a platform that allows citizens an increasingly widespread and accurate visibility of such an important aspect of the country's development policies. Compared to the past, a greater number of information and new data on public works in Italy are recorded and publicized on "Opencantieri" platform. Everyone has the opportunity to know the amount of the work financed, its effective cost and, eventually, the delay from the planned date of conclusion of the work. For the first time in Italy all this information has been published in open format on the Ministry's website dedicated to OpenData (http://dati.mit.gov.it), promoting and encouraging the re-use of data. “Opencantieri” is an important and substantial basket of dataset related to infrastructure and transport. The enabling platform, based on open source systems, allows to explore the data catalogues, to perform graphics, to display on the map geo-referenced information. It is possible to find information about traffic accidents, data on Italian port infrastructures and on public spending on transport. Furthermore, the same data used by "Opencantieri" are reported.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Project foresaw a steering committee coordinated by the General Direction for IT and Statistical Systems of the Ministry itself, with the involvement of the entire plurality of the institutional parts. The Committee organized its activity also delegating tasks and specific functions to workgroups. The Committee and the workgroups put on the lead, verification and evaluation of the Project, activated themselves to grant a stable support to the different levels in order to coordinate the activities within the competence of the subjects involved to achieve the Project purposes. “Opencantieri” is born from the will to further empower the service to citizens. Citizens are enabled to monitoring in a simple way, through dashboards and geo-localized information, the progress in works related to streets, railways, subways, harbors and airports, accessing to various indicators and economical parameters. Citizens are considered as subjects cooperating for the same purpose and involved to produce, verify and participate through shared data. Possible errors in data are immediately visible and quickly managed. Data producers are consequently more responsible for verifying data correctness and in realigning them in case of errors. Data achieves an absolute importance, becoming “infrastructure” at the same level of servers and communication nets. The Project is an empowerment, in terms of informative potential and public works monitoring, being at service of both national and regional Institutions and citizens. Therefore, it assumes a distinctly national level and, at the same time, it is visible and usable at international level. In purely numeric terms, at a national level a potential pool of platform users and beneficiaries of about 48 million people over the age of 20 can be supposed. The fact that the Ministry is responsible for the management of the Project coupled with the expected involvement of the Regions furtherly increases the potential pool of users. In fact, the Ministry intends to develop a model of data transmission, control, fruition and spreading that prove to be responsive to the needs of all Regions, both those not owing autonomous informative systems and those owing.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
“Opencantieri” was born in order to give an overall vision on public works, enabling citizens to understand infrastructures, as well as to inform them about the whole process. The challenges faced by “Opencantieri” were several, starting from preliminary issues. The first one was related to the lexicon, in order to operate in a consistent way on information coming from different worlds. A meta-glossary was developed as a bridge between the different languages. The second analysis referred to spotting the different data-providers and to activate synergy mechanisms aiming at applicative cooperation i.e., the ability of a computer system to rely on the automatic interchange of information with different systems. This can be achieved by data-exchange services, following common rules agreed by the different institution. This is at the very basis of any further operation of transparency and accountability. “Opencantieri” is for sure an example of such cooperation. From a chronological point of view, on February 2015 took place the first experimental phase seeing a constant implementation of the surveyed works, towards november 2015 when the “Opencantieri” platform was formalized in Turin from the former President of the Council of Ministries Matteo Renzi during the Italian Digital Day. The downloaded raw data allowed a detailed analysis to the expert user, although not allowing an immediate answer to the questions posed by unexperienced citizens. This is the reason why “Opencantieri” selects a set of particularly representative parameters, state variables synthetizing a work in terms of costs, progress, manners of performing. Such variables form the indicators that, in synthesis, can answer to users’ questions. From a structural point of view, two types of public works were identified: the first one refers to the 32 “main” interventions “foreseen” by the Infrastructures Annex to DEF 2015. The answers are represented on two “dashboards”. The first dashboard, the “indicators” one, bears six “tools” able to offer a glance in a scalar manner, on different levels of aggregation: “all works”, “by sector”, “by single work”. The second dashboard, is dedicated to the “timeline”, showing overlying bars to understand the “temporal position” of the intervention compared to its administrative and technical course. The second types of interventions is related to those comprised in the program contracts stipulated with ANAS and RFI beside harbor and airport works. In an interactive manner, on a geographical map, it is possible to visualize the interventions and to understand their nature and path status, in addition to the foreseen amounts and to the answers to the usual simple questions posed by the community that are at the very basis of transparency. The Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports sustained, with funds coming from his own budget chapters, a cost of € 48.000,00 VAT included for external collaborations only related to the first phase of development and commissioning of the Project. Further € 300.000,00 / year must be added to these expenditures for implementation of activities and platform maintenance, all comprised in an agreement with the public company Formez PA.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The motley team that brought the Project on, allowing its realization, is composed by different public and private Institutions. “Opencantieri” and the related “dati.mit.gov.it” platform hosting the datasets in open format, were realized by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports, through a cooperation agreement with Formez PA, Department for the Planning and the Coordination of the Economic Policy (DIPE) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Politecnico di Milano Foundation, Sciamlab S.r.l. in addition to the contribution of the Ministry of Economy and Finances. “Opencantieri” is based on data gathered in the PIS information system, realized by the temporary consortium of companies made up of Capgemini Italia and Ernst & Young Financial Business Advisors. The implementing bodies are ANAS, RFI, Consorzio Venezia Nuova, plus other Institutions and special purpose entities.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
1) Greater capillarity of the mapped works, inclusive of a greater number of information supplied for each of them. 2) Increased civic participation and also greater citizens' trust in the work of public administration. 3) Release of data in open format, resulting incentive to re-use by the community and increase in the share level and active involvement of citizens, sectoral associations, economic entities. 4) Greater transparency, citizens participation in and awareness of Public Administration's activity, involving the community not only in monitoring the status of progress of large-scale building sites.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
When the "Opencantieri" team began to analyze the various databases, valuable for the project, has discovered a veritable semantic babel: names, categories, sets do not match. All this multiplied by hundreds of concepts and classifications. Before the technological effort there was conceptual effort. The biggest challenge was to create a uniform database. It has required an intense and important work to harmonize and to aggregate information since they were often allocated to different databases and grouped in a different way with heterogeneous nomenclatures. The "Opencantieri" team had to develop a homogeneous set of indicators in order to make various works comparable and to enable to respond to simple questions, which are of greatest interest to citizens: "How much time is late that construction site? How much have increased the cost? It is added, to these actions, the commitment to standardize different glossaries on one open platform, the one of "Opencantieri”. In fact, “Opencantieri” is a projectuality container of different public entities, terms and expressions relating to procurement, often not homogeneous. The enormous job of adjustment has allowed an easy definition of all the terms used for the correct understanding of the same, regardless of the reference subject and origin. This knowledge system is public, open, available and reusable. As in a "bank of the language", whoever need to build, to manage or to widen his/her own glossary can choose, among the available concepts, those that better meet their needs and integrate them into his/her lexicon. It is also possible to establish further ex novo concepts that continue to exist as collective heritage, which are is ready to be navigated, reused by other users.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The first recipient of the project is the community. In fact, "Opencantieri" allows citizens to easily monitor the progress of Public Works (road works, railways, subways and other types, also of regional interest) and to access different indicators and economic parameters by using dashboards and map geo-referenced information. Specifically, "Opencantieri" enables citizens to be involved throughout the entire life cycle of construction works (from planning to periodic assessment and commissioning), as well as to actively contribute to their implementation by submitting targeted reports on the basis of a full background knowledge of the facts. Moreover, "Opencantieri" had a positive impact on all the "local" stakeholders. Different actors, such as business communities, professionals, social partners, contracting authorities providing data related to works under their own jurisdiction, have the opportunity to see the data inserted and comparable to other ongoing construction works in the concerned area. Provided information (especially on location and progress of the works) is of pivotal importance for bodies responsible for supervising safety in the workplace and working conditions (Asl, Inail, Labour Inspectorate etc.). Regions are also primary recipients of the project and they are directly interested in the information provided. In fact, they may represent or the contracting authority, or the implementing body, or the financing body. More broadly, Regions may be the programming body which is expected to have a deep knowledge of the territory and to be able to lead infrastructures planning and development processes. All of the above mentioned activities led to a substantial reduction of the different databases maintenance and management costs and to a remarkable reduction of the time needed to sector-specific data updating, bringing advantages in terms of costs and sustainability. Economic advantages are linked to the fact that the system does not need additional resources beyond those connected to the data catalogue ad to the final application. Moreover, whoever generates data is directly responsible for the application functioning: if the application is robust, after a running-in period, it will keep working without special assistance. The platform “Opencantieri” has received a great deal of attention: it was mentioned in the Annex of the project DEF 2016 and in several online newspapers, such as La Repubblica”, “Corriere della Sera”, “Il Tirreno”, “Quotidiano.net” “La Stampa”, “Il Sole 24 ore”, etc. The testing phase comprised only 32 recorded interventions as part of the 25 strategic projects included in the Annex Infrastructure to DEF 2015. At the moment, thanks to the constant implementation of the system, there are over 1,500 recorded road and rail interventions comprised in the program contracts stipulated with ANAS and RFI, beside harbour and airport works. Lastly, the trial of a census of regional works is underway. For this purpose, it is used infrastructure that enables data to be automatically updated to the platform "Opencantieri".

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Ministry, in order to encourage a preventive type of contrast to the public corruption through the promotion of the administrative transparency, considered fundamental the role of the civic control. Transparency, participation and collaboration are the cornerstones of Open Government. Thanks to "Opencantieri" the Ministry has spread the information heritage of public works, allowing communities to verify its own work and laying the foundation for an inclusive policy. This is in line with the idea of the Ministry that without citizens’ participation and their accesses to public information, which can be elaborated and reused, the philosophy of open data has no reason to exist. “Opencantieri" is a concrete example of a participative tool for the citizens with the purpose of encourage the civic control and direct cooperation in the administrative life of the same Ministry. Ministry, with "Opencantieri" and its open data platform, has provided a full disclosure of information and figures related around 1.500 public works to ensure them maximum visibility and also to provide citizens with control and protection tools, making them more aware of mechanisms underlying the public administration and its operating costs. In this way, transparency and citizens’ participation has been ensured. Those elements facilitate Public Administration accountability and, at the same time, they strengthen internal management empowerment. Participating in the Open Government Partnership 2016 with the most advanced version of the project “Opencantieri”, the Ministry aimed at giving to the society a strong signal of openness and sharing. The Ministry made concrete commitment towards promoting transparency, empowering citizens, combatting corruption and strengthening governance using new technologies. This Project has created a new model of transparency of the Ministry and thanks to the involvement of citizens and their progressive approach to the work of the Ministry, they developed a highest level of trust and confidence in the institution. This achievement has been made possible also through open data, which have enabled full transparency, accountability and the development of the internet economy.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Not applicable.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Mario Nobile
Title:   General Director ICT  
Telephone/ Fax:   00390644267374
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   segreteria.dgsisc@mit.gov.it  
Address:   Via Nomentana 2
Postal Code:   00161
City:   Rome
State/Province:   Rome
Country:  

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