The importance of infrastructures
Driving high-performance cars on bumpy roads full of obstacles. This is how Italy could be summarized. A recognized ability to create high-end products but, at the same time, unable to adapt to change. This "cry of alarm" comes from Mauro Severi, president of Aica (Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers Association), speaking about the real need for planning in the field of urbanism and infrastructure
Simonluca Pini - Contributor Editor de Il Sole 24 Ore
Driving high-performance cars on bumpy roads full of obstacles. This is how Italy could be summarized. A recognized ability to create high-end products but, at the same time, unable to adapt to change. This "cry of alarm" comes from Mauro Severi, president of Aica (Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers Association), speaking about the real need for planning in the field of urbanism and infrastructure. In addition to being president of Aica, Mauro Severi is also an architect with a long list of important projects behind his name. "What we miss is a control room to tackle the issue. As Aica, we are willing to provide knowledge, specialists and experience. What is needed, however, is a collective willingness to change, and to change quickly," Severi explains.
The key role of the Motor Valley
Emilia-Romagna is known worldwide for its automotive tradition, thanks to the presence of brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. The Motor Valley has become a brand in itself, capable of attracting enthusiasts from all over the world. Italy is among the main manufacturers of automotive components, able to ensure thousands of jobs and a large chunk of the country’s GDP. Despite all these elements, opposition is mounting against automobiles. "I wonder - underlines Severi - how it is that on the one hand the Motor Valley is constantly praised and on the other hand the diffidence towards private vehicles keeps growing. For at least another 20/30 years we will still have to live with automobiles and it might be even longer for heavy transport vehicles".
Calling for political attention
Environmental issues have become the common denominator in every nation, starting with the restrictive emission standards imposed by the European Community. While no objection can be made to the fact that we must try to leave future generations a cleaner world, actions that will enable this change are equally essential. "In addition to the allocation of incentives for the purchase of electric cars, we should invest in green mobility at all levels. A fundamental point, yet often forgotten, is related to freight transport by rail, able to play an important role in reducing road pollution - recalls the president of Aica -. Even today, several Italian regions cannot rely on a rail network capable of making transport hubs truly efficient. In order to change this situation, the current Government needs to have a complete vision of the national transport system".
Italy is full of projects, on paper, but few actually see the light of day. In addition, a number of motorway corridors are still missing, "the proposed Modena-Livorno link, for example, could simultaneously reduce pollution and increase tax revenues thanks to a greater movement of goods - Severi points out -. A greater impulse towards urban planning culture, with a global vision of how the country and industry have changed, is needed if such a change is to take place".
Another point that needs greater attention concerns the importance of developing connected roads. "We can buy cars capable of communicating with each other through Car-to-X protocols, being constantly connected through Clouds, however, we still have to travel on “20th Century” roads – Severi points out -. Even in this field a change of pace is needed, we need connected roads and a network of infrastructures able to connect and interact with our vehicles. This would bring advantages in terms of increased safety and reduced pollution thanks to a more efficient traffic management".
Of course, a series of structural reforms such as those listed above need clear and precise planning and, at the same time, a realistic timeframe for completion. "At the moment, we lack a long-term plan, and often, politicians set guidelines for engineers and specialists on how to work but only within a single term of office," Severi concluded.