Projects
January 2002 / April 2008

PArticipatory Networks and Databases for Environmental Research and Assessment. Pilot study of the Venetian community - PANDORA

The PANDORA project aims to engage the community of the “citizens of the web” by developing a participatory, multimedia, interactive platform through the use of ICTs. In this new “virtual agorà” each citizen can express his or her views, needs, and concerns, can exchange information, debate ideas, and co-operate with other users to consider the major themes related to sustainable development.

The PANDORA project aims to engage the community of the “citizens of the web” by developing a participatory, multimedia, interactive platform through the use of ICTs. In this new “virtual agorà” each citizen can express his or her views, needs, and concerns, can exchange information, debate ideas, and co-operate with other users to consider the major themes related to sustainable development. Citizen participation will result in a bottom- up contribution to the public debate and can offer useful information to the process of local e-governance.The PANDORA project explores ways of collecting and including knowledge from a range of actors into integrated planning and assessment processes. The effectiveness of this contribution to the public decision-making process will depend on the results of user participation and on potential contact with public administrators.

Main Results and Outputs

In order to serve the various purposes of the project, the PANDORA system has been structured in 3 parts that correspond to the 3 areas of the Internet site:

  • The informative part of the system contains information designed to be accessible to a broad audience. The main aim is to disseminate environmental, social and economic information related to a local context and create awareness about issues of sustainability
  • The communicative part of the system allows the participants to surf the site in a personalised way and to contribute “narrative” feedback about their local context. The aim of this area is to encourage a mutual learning process and an exchange of information and experiences among web citizens
  • The co-operative part establishes room to implement the concept of “collective intelligence”. This process will be fostered as the basis for developing sustainable scenarios for the local target area.In April 2006 a new version of the Pandora platform has been launched: a new layout improves the readability and the accessibility of the information, new security options have been implemented and the login/access to restricted areas has been simplified. New tools are used to stimulate an active discussion among the users, moreover new features simplify the data search.
  • The PANDORA project focuses on the city of Venice as a case study for testing and developing the application of the system. Being a complex reality, Venice is the best example to highlight the need of a sound equilibrium between environmental, social and economic variables within an urban context.
    From 2005, an agreement between FEEM and the City of Venice states that the tool http://www.feem-project.net/pandora/ could be used alongside participatory processes that have been activated by the Council Office for the Environment. The Council for the Environment is an advisory committee of the Venice Municipality which aims at establishing debate and collaboration among associations, authorities, groups and citizens to develop the capacity to understand the value of the environment. In the first six months of 2007 it has been developed a new approach for promoting the role of inhabitants using cooperative techniques in constructing maps that represent their lived and perceived space. These maps, other than providing information about Venice Lagoon, represent the “places” or cultural values and aspects of identity that are perceived by the population but not always made explicit. The interlacing of different visions is aimed at identifying the cultural resources that exist in the territory from the different stakeholders’ viewpoints. Discovering (or rediscovering) links with the territory means placing the “actors” who are endowed with a unique and original worth at the centre of that very territory. In this way a sense of place reinforces the defence of ecological and cultural diversity and is a prerequisite for an attitude of caring for the territory. The territory is not only the ground that one puts their feet on, the context in which our experience unfolds, the background for our actions, the basis for carrying out all territorial practices, it is also the reference point for cultural roots and values, and the sense and significance attributed to it by the cultural practices of groups and individuals.
    The “network of local actors-milieu-ecosystem-constructed environment” relationship thus makes it possible to:

  • recognise Venice’s “territorial heritage”  “from below” through the representation and sharing of visions of the territory;
  • increase the involvement of all the social actors who produce new knowledge about the territory by giving value to and recognising their own culture and identity. This objective aims to identify the network nodes and links and to create a “network of the territory” and a “territorial network”:  a virtual meeting place where  territorial identity can mature through a continuous exchange between real and virtual territories;
  • create an innovative model for territorial surveying and action in the field with elements that are replicable in other contexts;
  • promote the diffusion of a culture of responsibility for the place in which a person lives;
  • use New Technologies and the Web as useful tools for making the empowerment process and the results of that process visible.
  • If on the one hand cartography defines “where”, based on what is already known, on the other hand it makes people imagine – beginning with these same objects and their spatial configuration - new forms and interpretations of the world that surrounds them. The process used to create the cartographic representation is thus a continuous circular process that works between the codified image of the world and the emergence of new visions and their representation and crystallisation.
    The process that is promoted with the population has several advantages from the point of view of constructing a territorial identity since mapping the area with the citizens will be the product of a participatory process, able to catalyse resources and energies among the people involved.

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