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Cyber planning to sustainability

The variety of declinations of cyberspace introduced above can be thought to constitute an ideal basis to translate into current practice some of the most important and often-abused concepts inspired to sustainable development.
The solemn declarations formulated at the end of the well-known conferences held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and in Johannesburg ten years later (Rio +10) seem to agree on this topic: achieving full access to information in order to strengthen the deliberative capacity embedded in groups of as many citizens as possible [39, p. 102]. This is believed to be the basis for increasing the level of empowerment of local societies and stimulating self-driven patterns of decision-making and planning. Furthermore, according to Agenda 21, the subsequent operative document, one of the most important tasks in a process toward sustainability should be “improving the use of data and information at all stages of planning and management” [40].
Information can be made entirely open and accessible either by disseminating it to remote communities and groups or by bringing those societies to it. In the last hypothesis, cyberspace might play a leading role, by inducing innovative channels for digital information distribution and exchange, by individuating and constructing common, sharable, and thus transparent datasets, and by opening an era of collective and interactive processes developed by local societies on self-built scenarios. The institution of a common and always-accessible informational endowment can be considered a fertile humus for encouraging the diffusion of behaviors inspired to Local Agenda 21 protocols, with respect to trustful, transparent, consensus-built, and self-reliant planning. In this perspective, tools for managing, enhancing, and distributing (spatial) information are particularly welcome: web-based maps, GIS, images, movies, other multimedia, checklists, networks, forums, and newsgroups are the necessary bricks to conceive innovative digital planning environments. The supply of these tools is already well grounded on a wealth of software and GI-based applications available online; on the other side, though, the social demand might not meet this level of diffusion. A widespread and acceptable level of social trustfulness for digital processes and tools is still lacking; this constitutes one of the most difficult barriers to a current practice of cyber planning. After creating a common ground for the culture of bottom-up self-planning, and sustainability, society should produce its efforts for reducing the large digital gap that still divides information- rich domains in cyberspace from the corresponding information-poor excluded communities in the geographical space.

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