X.Farma Valley Community Map (Tuscany, Italy)

Interaction type Public→ Government
Trigger event Location-based game contest
Domain Heritage preservation and land planning
Organisation Attivarti.org
Actors Attivart.org (NGO) and citizens of Torniella, Piloni, and Scalvaia, small hamlets in Southern Tuscany.
Data sets 1:10000 base maps (authoritative), place names (crowdsourced)
Process Participatory methodology (meetings, interviews, surveys) to collect place names missing from current official base maps, but relevant for the local communities.
Feedback Increased international and national visibility, extension of open data originated by Attivarti.org and its network of partners, improved insight on the territory of the Farma Valley.
Goal Improve visibility of the Farma Valley, empower citizens via open data.
Side effects Interest of other communities in Italy to initiate the same process (preliminary meetings have taken place).
Impact of the project Impact in a local level.

 

Temporal pattern Ongoing process.
Funding of the project Community-based funding (citizen-owned) until nowadays.
Contact point Andrea Giacomelli (info [at] pibinko.org)

The Farma Valley, located in Southern Tuscany, about 100 km South of Florence, is a small (120 square km) and sparsely populated (less than 500 residents, mostly concentrated in three hamlets) area of the region. The valley’s landscape is dominated by woodlands, and its importance from an environmental perspective is demonstrated by the presence of three natural reserves. Due to the low presence of population and infrastructure both in the valley and in the wider surroundings, the site is also characterized by a very good sky quality at night. The valley used to be crossed by one of roads reaching the coast from Siena. However, with the opening of a new highway in 1974, the hamlets animating the area have been progressively cut off from the main flows of traffic (including tourism). This has reinforced the valley’s reputation as a natural paradise, but has not simplified the life of the local communities. The need to sustain the residents in accordance with the relocation on the area by an expert in environmental geomatics has led to the development of innovative projects for the protection and promotion of the area.

This project started with the participation of the local communities, coordinated by Attivarti.org to a contest concerning location-based games for environmental education, launched by the EU-funded INVOLEN project. The scope of the project was based on an initial effort to collect points of interest (POIs) and trails known to the residents and to expose a significant number of toponyms missing from the current regional government base maps in the area of Torniella. In other words, policy change around governmental data was the main driver of the project. In order to extend the coverage of the community-based data set, subsequent efforts were made to interview older residents of the other hamlets.

Crowdsourcing techniques were applied not only with the collection of POIs but also with interviews, anecdotes and stories about the places.
Contributions from the public are represented by the WMS service provided by Regione Toscana with the 1:10000-scale base maps. The project is documented at http://attivarti.org/v2/farma-valley/community-map/.

Three key positive factors of the project have been recorded until now. (1) The project has created a base to document heritage from the three hamlets involved relying on an open data paradigm. (2) The dissemination of the data set has created an additional layer of interest toward the valley by tourists, researchers, and professionals (especially in the tourism and environmental education sectors). (3) The project represents an effective case of a value chain starting from research efforts (related to the INVOLEN project participation) to promoting local economy. The whole process that has been adopted can be evaluated as an appropriate project management practice.

Until now, no recorded factors can be considered as negative. With the project developing during the coming months, and more information being collected, work is needed on consolidating the relationship of the project to institutional stakeholders. Maintaining public interest is the only challenge that the managers of the project may face in the future.

Nowadays, the project is in a very lively phase (we are anticipating monthly updates of the Farma Valley data set during Summer and several dissemination events), so it would be appropriate to define conclusions towards the end of the year. Concerning the possibility of replicating the initiative in other contexts: from the technology standpoint the initiative is fairly simple, while the key element is the mix of actors, linking a scientific and technologic subject (pibinko.org) to a strongly-felt driver (the need to minimize the loss of local knowledge).

 Main lessons:

  • The collected data have attracted the interest of tourists, researchers, and professionals.
  • Maintaining public interest, which is a well known challenge in crowdsourcing projects. can be also noticed in this case study.
  • Negative factors may cannot be noticed when a project is still active.
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