Italy gets a turbocharge: culture, museums and villages for the recovery

The fourth edition of #TalkFor5G, a webinar series organized by INWIT, discusses how going digital is a crucial tool for the recovery of the cultural sector

Culturemuseumsvillages and recovery, through the potential provided by innovation and 5G.

These were the topics discussed at the fourth installment of the #TalkFor5G webinar, part of a series of events organized by INWIT in collaboration with the Fondazione Ottimisti&Razionali to combat prejudice and fake news about 5G. 

Following the previous editions – the first titled “The value of 5G: potential and services. 5G among fears, fake news and disinformation: could it be we need more information?”, the second “5G and electromagnetism: involving communities and combating fake news” and the third, “Healthcare: the future will work remotely” – the title of the latest online event, held on 21 April, was “Italy gets a turbocharge: culture, museums and villages for the recovery”. The event featured the participation of members from institutions and the world of culture, including Lucia Borgonzoni (Undersecretary of State at the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities), Giovanna Melandri, President of the Fondazione MAXXI, Simonetta Giordani, General Secretary of the Associazione Civita, Angelo Argento, President of Culture Italiae, Talitha Vassalli di Dachenhausen General Director for Museums at the Ministry of Culture, and Luca Profili, Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio, and was moderated by Michelangelo Suigo, INWIT’s External Relations and Communications Director.

The digitalization of villages and places of culture will be essential for the future of these extraordinary places,” said Michelangelo Suigo in his opening, stressing how “several parliamentary commissions are discussing ways to speed up the authorization process for 5G systems.

Borgonzoni: “Accelerating simplification to close the digital gap”

We need to address 5G and fast connections. COVID-19 has sped up digitalization, but everyone needs to be able to access technological tools in the same way. There are still white areas without internet coverage: villages and rural areas, to move forward, need access to super fast networks. We are working to close a very large gap, which is why we need to accelerate simplification,” said the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture, Lucia Borgonzoni. “For the Ministry of Culture, bringing broadband to the whole country is a priority. In places of culture, 5G has infinite possibilities: historical itineraries, memorials, augmented reality – to name just a few of the 5G applications that will pave the way for uses we can’t even imagine. These are things we have to deliver to people.” 

Melandri: “5G in museums is essential, both for use and for content production”

MAXXI was the the first museum to get 5G coverage, both as network infrastructure and as capability to produce content,” recalled Giovanna Melandri, “and now we want to create a research hub to study the relationship between Artificial Intelligence and art and architecture, design, and urban regeneration.” 

I think the application of 5G has enormous potential,” the president of the Fondazione MAXXI (Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo – National Museum of 20th Century Art) said, “both for use and for production. During lockdown, we transformed the MAXXI into a content broadcast, initiating ad hoc production processes and arousing interest we never would have expected, with 16 million views during the first lockdown. This technology will be very useful in accelerating production processes, putting creative groups together that can use the potential of 5G to impact technical use as well as production.”  

Giordani: “Physical and virtual infrastructure and speed: prerequisites for the competitive potential of the hospitality and tourism industry”

This is the right time for the recovery of Italy’s small villages, putting different players around the table to create virtuous processes, help local contexts, and provide access to incentives for sustainable tourism in Italy,” said Simonetta Giordani, General Secretary of the Associazione Civita. “With villages, we can inspire a relaunch, thanks in part to remote working, but we need to focus on enhancing our extensive heritage.” 

With technological innovation,” continued Giordani, “we can work with Millennials and Generations X and Y. Why is there no cultural consumption? Young people want more entertaining products. This is why, with PNRR funds, we need to create a dense 5G network and create new cultural services based on gamification and virtual reality, to involve the younger population in the cultural appreciation of the country.” For this to happen, we need to create infrastructure for the hospitality industry and connect our villages with communications networks, both physical (roads, railways) and virtual (fiber, 5G), “otherwise we’re only talking about philosophy.

Argento: “Fast connection everywhere to increase the potential of various industries, including culture”

In the past year, a historic paradigm between art and technology has changed. Unlike the past, the world of culture is in search of technology,” Angelo Argento, President of Culture Italiae, said in his talk. “So much so that many are wondering what the first lockdown would have been like without internet connections. For places of culture, therefore, a paradigm shift was required. The MAXXI has managed to do this; other places – for example, the San Carlo theater in Naples with opera on Facebook live – have paved the way for a change, absolutely unthinkable before the lockdown.” 

Today,” continued Argento, “because of the pandemic, technology has been used as a substitute for presence. But when things reopen, we’ll need to find a balance and move from substitution to integration. Think of the loss of the relational and personal dimension, which 5G, or even 10G, will never be able to replace.

Profili: “The offer of a connected village can be a strong boost for growth”

Administrators must demonstrate that villages are livable places, up to date, accepting the challenges that technology and innovation offer,” explained Luca Profili, Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio. “Broadband, accessibility, infrastructure, and healthcare are key to moving forward safely in the near future.

Today, Civita is a village where tradition and innovation go together. A connected village like ours,” he said, “offers greater possibilities in terms of attractiveness: our resident population has doubled, from 7 to 14 people, thanks in part to remote working. And 400 businesses have opened, including bed & breakfasts and businesses linked to tourism. Before 2019, we had fewer than 100,000 tourists a year. In 201,9 before the lockdown, we were at a million. After reopening, in summer, the tourists returned, and I’m hopeful for the future.” 

Talitha Vassalli di Dachenhausen: “Museums are also research institutions. Going digital is a tool for relating to the public”

A few weeks ago, a UNESCO report “painted a critical picture for museums, which saw an 80% drop in visits during the pandemic,” said Talitha Vassalli di Dachenhausen, General Director for Museums in the Ministry of Culture, “but going digital can provide hope and help rescue the system.

The most important discussions of this fourth installment can be read again in a Twitter live feed of the event.