Elected earlier this year, Pompei is part of a team of councillors working to transform Rome into a ‘smart city’, by using technology to help make citizens’ lives easier.
Initiatives range from the Roma Bus smartphone app, which provides live travel updates, to technology which aims to do away with the notoriously long queues found in the capital.
A start-up company is developing the latter, which will let people pre-book their spot in a queue through their mobile phone. “Then they can go to the [post or city council] office when their number is about to come up, optimizing people’s time,” Pompei explains.
The councillor also hopes new technology will give resident’s greater access to the city’s community budget (bilancio partecipativo), by going online to say what they would like the money spent on.
“It’s a way for citizens to participate in the public administration, and say what their own priorities are,” says Pompei.
More ideas in the pipeline are being developed by Pompei’s IT engineering students at Rome’s Marconi University. This gives students practical experience, but also points to an obstacle in the smart city campaign: a shortage of funding.
“Unfortunately the money is a problem at the moment,” Pompei admits. But by collaborating with the university and trialing start-up initiatives, he says the council is creating a ‘smart city’ at near-zero cost.
A little investment can go a long way, Pompei explains. “You can optimize resources. If you invest in a project, in reality you get double back in return,” such as residents buying more bus tickets as public transport becomes easier to navigate.
With tourists in Rome are constantly looking at the city’s past, Pompei urges citizens to look ahead and see the benefits technology can bring to the capital.