Matera dreams of its future as a digital twin and blockchain

Matera dreams of its future as a digital twin and blockchain

Matera Digital Week was an opportunity to take stock of technological innovations and their transfer to business realities thanks to the contribution of the Emerging Technology Houses which, since their establishment in 2018, are playing an important role in the various reference territories. Particularly in Matera, some topics covered by dedicated laboratories were dealt with in detail, including those relating to the development of digital twin models, 5G and Qkd applications. During the event that took place in the Lucanian city from 22 to 26 July, followed and moderated some of the most significant matches. Here is our report.

The digital twin of Matera How do we imagine the cities of the future? This is the question that underlies the work of many professionals: urban planners, architects, sociologists, politicians and of course scientists engaged in the development of advanced technological solutions for the smart city. A complex multidisciplinary work that is at the center of an experiment of excellence, that of the Matera Digital Twin coordinated by the Department of Engineering, ICT and Technologies for Energy and Transport of the CNR which also involves the House of Emerging Technologies of Matera.

This topic was discussed during Matera Digital Week with a dedicated panel which was attended by Giacomo Pepe Benedetti of Start 4.0, Marco Alessi of Engineering, Davide Rampello of Rampello & Partners, Emanuele Zingale of Tim and Paolo Boscolo of Prisma Prato. The discussion highlighted some elements of reflection, for example, the need to connect technology with its user. The digital twin model must promote a new paradigm that combines the technical and technological aspects with those of human nature, underlined the cultural manager Davide Rampello. Quoting Vitruvius, Rampello underlined how it is "necessary for man to have an encyclopedic vision, in the sense of a harmonious vision to foster a sense of understanding necessary to manage complexity".

This human-centered approach, a distinctive element of the Matera digital twin project was also highlighted by the engineer Marco Alessi, Director of the Innovative Paradigms Unit for the Public Administration at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. "The challenge of the digital twin is precisely to transfer it to the urban environment where the human being is clearly the main actor. The goal is to put man at the center so that he is at the same time user and provider of information and contents ", Alessi reiterated.

Another element of reflection concerned the enormous amount of data generated from models such as that of the digital twin that needs to be rationalized and understood. Tim's work for the city of Venice has gone in this direction, setting objectives such as reducing traffic, improving air quality, but also increasing the safety of citizens. "This goal can only be achieved by collecting as much data as possible, putting it together and using the best open source technologies, above all by managing the breadth of this information," said Emanuele Zingale of Tim. The telecommunications company has experimented with this process by also creating an open platform available to the city of Venice for the development of urban policies increasingly based on data and on the real needs of citizens.

The use of digital platforms and advanced models such as the digital twin also represent a fundamental asset for identifying and protecting the territorial identity of cities. “Data is one of the elements to understand reality but narration, imagination, intuition are also needed, it takes harmony” recalled Davide Rampello, underlining the validity of a multidisciplinary approach of the digital twin.

"To build a good platform, you need to work well from the start, focusing on elements such as sharing and co-design, so a participatory approach is required" recalled Giacomo Pepe Benedetti, project manager of Star 4.0. "One of the ways to start off on the right foot when resetting governance processes using a digital platform is to replicate the model of competitive companies".

However, there are critical issues such as being able to capitalize on information available to make informed decisions, especially at the level of public administrations. "Decision-makers do not always make choices based on data and, moreover, it is not easy to share data because there is no awareness that these data are a common good", recalled Paolo Boscolo, IT director of the Municipality of Prato and a reference figure of the Prisma project. Lawn. Projects such as the digital twin of Matera therefore represent an important study experience for dealing with these challenges, both technological and cultural, with the clear aim of stimulating debate but also of creating a truly useful and functional model for the community.

5G as a technology enabling innovation The 5G officially started in Italy in June 2019 was anticipated by several experiments, one of the most interesting took place in Matera which together with Bari was chosen as a forerunner city not only in Italy but among the first in Europe. Precisely this primacy was reaffirmed during the workshop dedicated to 5G which was held on the occasion of Matera Digital Week.

Four years after the first steps of the new network technology in our country, the panel speakers intervened, they wanted not only to reaffirm the enabling concept of 5G for the development of innovations, but also to take stock of this technological asset.

In the House of Emerging Technologies in Matera, the following talked about: Nicola Blefari Melazzi (National Interuniversity Consortium for Telecommunications), Marco Bellezza (Infratel), Stefano Caputo (Cte Prato), Gianfranco Todesco (Municipal Police of the Municipality of Turin) and the Honorable Mirella Liuzzi.

The potential of 5G in our country has not yet been fully exploited, also due to the slowdowns related to the pandemic but there are several applications that have already shown how this new network infrastructure represents an asset in numerous contexts, from video surveillance systems to Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications, but also applications related to digital health, entertainment, precision agriculture, mobility and much more .

The honorable Mirella Liuzzi opened the proceedings with an initial greeting, underlining how “the commitment of the government and parliament on 5G has been constant, not only with the realization in recent years of an accurate fact-finding survey by the Transport and Telecommunications Commission but also with the most recent allocation of almost 2 billion euros of the PNRR dedicated to 5G ". The 5 Star parliamentarian also hoped that the network of the Emerging Technologies Houses, which today concern the cities of Matera, Prato, Rome, Turin and L'Aquila, could extend to new realities.

'commitment of the institutions was also Marco Bellezza, managing director of Infratel, who recalled how in the face of considerable investments by private individuals in 5G, concrete help is being offered by the public actor as evidenced by the recent call for tenders for installation of 11,000 new radio stations in Italy. "Public investments to strengthen the network have also been addressed to fill the gaps in 5G coverage in areas with resident users", recalled Beauty.

The importance of the fixed component of the 5G network infrastructure is was also remarked by Nicola Blefari Melazzi of Cnit who recalled how this element can offer an asset in the future to make applications and services grow and proliferate. The paradigm shift of 5G compared to previous mobile networks consists in fact in the possibility of adding a software part to the fixed component of the infrastructure. "The possibility of putting a cloud close to users is an epochal change because if previously it was necessary to use specific hardware to support the base stations, now a computer is sufficient and thanks to the use of software it is possible to make processes much simpler. network updating and management ”, said Blefari Melazzi.

The scalability of the applied scenarios therefore becomes particularly interesting even if it is still necessary to invest in training and knowledge. This was remarked by Stefano Caputo of the House of Emerging Technologies in Prato who highlighted how the textile industry of the Tuscan city is still showing some resistance in the adoption of 5G. "It is essential that local companies understand what the benefits of technology are and how to implement it and at the same time it is important to attract start-ups that can then help companies make the best use of innovations," said Caputo.

However, there are frontier applications that clearly delineate the possible potentials of 5G technology such as those that are being developed in Turin. In particular, advanced projects related to the use of drones have been launched as confirmed by Gianfranco Todesco, Commander of the Technological Investigations Department of the Municipal Police of Turin.

"We have created three urban test areas where they can come and test the drones and we are starting the first services for the city. For example, we are using drones with multispectral cameras to measure plant diseases and water stress of plants with georeferenced precision, and we are also using drones equipped with thermal cameras to monitor the thermal dispersion of buildings ", said Todesco.

In conclusion, the speakers also highlighted the priorities for increasing the adoption of 5G: investing in safety, training and technological know-how, bringing skills to the level of public administrations, involving the population more.

Future applications of security and identity Quantum technologies are a highly innovative area of ​​research and development with a particularly high potential impact. What we will be able to experience in the next few years promises to be a real revolution. All the more so if the exceptional computing capacity of quantum computers will be accompanied by the development of new generation blockchains.

This potential combination was the subject of the panel attended by Gian Luca Comandini (cryptocurrency expert in the dedicated committee of the Mise sector), Alessandro Zavatta (Crn), Enrico Frumento (Cefriel) and Emiliano Vernini (Poste Italiane).

The developing scenario is rather dynamic and one of the main themes that emerged in the debate is the concern of insiders about the security of current blockchains. "You can hack a public key in less than 10 minutes with a quantum computer by 2030, it's a race against time," said Gian Luca Comandini, one of the founders of AssoBit, the Italian association of companies and entrepreneurs who operate with blockchain technology.

In fact, when blockchain technology was invented, over ten years ago, the idea of ​​having a computer so powerful as to be able to undermine the security mechanisms of this system was almost unpredictable, today quantum computing is evolving so quickly that this eventuality is far from remote.

However, there is an answer to the vulnerability of current blockchains that is linked to the adoption of the QKD (Quantum Key) paradigm. Distribution) which proposes a concept of intrinsic safety. Various research institutes are working on this frontier, also thanks to a specific funding from the European Institute of Innovation & Technology.

"The longer cryptographic key equation equals more time to decrypt the key is no longer a model valid in the age of quantum computers. It is for this reason that security solutions based on mathematical problems independent of the speed of computers are being studied ”said Enrico Frumento, Senior Domain Specialist in the cybersecurity area at Cefriel. "But we must not forget that it is also essential to implement the above software with appropriate security criteria because it is at this level that there could be risks of cyber attacks", specified Frumento.

The great ferment of innovators in this This sector is also witnessed by the projects aimed at creating the European quantum telecommunications network (European Quantum Communication Infrastructure). EuroQci will integrate quantum technologies and systems into conventional fiber optic communication infrastructures and will include a space segment that will ensure complete coverage in all 26 countries of the European Union.

"This infrastructure will allow for secure, at least in an initial initial phase, central governments to embassies and offices of the European community, distributing cryptographic keys based on Quantum Key Distribution ”said Alessandro Zavatta, CNR - INO researcher, Coordinator of the research group on quantum communications. "At a later stage, this asset will then also be available to industries and telecommunications operators who will be able to provide services as is the case today for the Internet".

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