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Building an interconnected society: infrastructure, investment, innovation and integration

    • Meeting in digital format
    • 9 November 2020

          The pandemic has had a considerable impact on lifestyles, both temporarily and longer term (structurally). Even after the arrival of an anti-coronavirus vaccine, an interconnected society is going to have to recuperate a good number of physical living spaces in order to get back to “normal”. That means fewer distance-based activities, some of which, however, are bound to remain useful and will tend to be employed more as we move forward than they were in pre-emergency times.

          On the digital front, the DESI index still indicates ample margins for growth that call for accelerating the European average. Italy has been slow in raising the digital literacy levels of businesses and citizens, not least due to the advanced age of the population; but the problem is also one of resources. In the current emergency, Europe has dedicated more than two billion euro to getting every citizens vaccinated. The Recovery Fund amounts to approximately 700 billion euro, of which 360 billion in loans and 300 in non-repayable grants. The European Commission will disburse more than 200 billion euro directly to Italy,, 20% of which is earmarked for digital projects according to four main priorities: connectivity, the acquisition of digital skills, the innovation economy and the transformation of the public administration.

          The sector also needs a new regulatory framework, starting with revisions of the antitrust approach and net neutrality. Equally important will be to enhance freedom of consumer choices by increasing government investments in digitalization, i.e. digital literacy at all academic levels and professional re-skilling.

          Finally, infrastructure is going to be needed to handle an amount of data traffic destined to increase ten-fold over the next five years, considering that, unfortunately, the so-called “digital divide” still denies many people access not only to broadband services but also to important services such as e-learning. The future depends precisely on the capacity for content to travel rapidly across a wide and, most importantly, secure network.

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