The economic benefit of an innovative urban information infrastructure: the choice experiment method applied to the Smart Totem of EU project SINFONIA
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The diffusion and integration of the information and communication technologies (ICT) in the urban environment is a pillar of the current smart city development approach. Sensors, monitors, and portable devices allow acquisition, exchanging and querying of data (or even big data) in real time. However, the technological and digital innovation in our cities should be considered not the final goal, as the application per se of all the available technologies. On the contrary, this should be done as the most efficient and costeffective way to improve citizens’ quality of life. In designing and construction of an innovative urban information infrastructure, enabling the users interaction and communication, it plays a prominent role to understand how and if the project meets users expectations. By recording the stated preferences of users is possible to determine the value of a service offered for the first time by the Municipality. Thus, a Choice Experiment valuation method (CE) is here applied to estimate the economic value of an innovative infrastructure, as a non-market good. According to the CE rules, the interviewer presents in a face to face surveys specific hypothetical scenarios, describing the offered services and costs, asking for the best and worst option. The survey involves a sample representative of the whole potential users, including citizens, commuters, and tourists. The case study analysis is developed within the European smart city project SINFONIA. In this context, CE allows researchers to estimate the perceived benefits of forthcoming smart points, called “totems”, in the Italian city of Bolzano, and to provide designers with insights on additional attributes. The suggested method allows designers and decision makers to clear understand citizens’ priorities and expectation toward an innovative urban infrastructure. The purpose of this paper is also to contribute to a better understanding of the socio-economic aspects connected to the implementation of smart devices in the urban environment. It shows a high replicability potential in other similar contexts, undertaking the smart city development approach.
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