DatiBeneComune and amendment in the budget law.
The campaign for transparent data on the emergency has gathered the support of 160 organisations and newspapers. Nearly 40,000 signatories have signed the petition, but it is not going to stop until the government provides answers.

14 December 2020 – Almost 40,000 citizens and 160 civic organisations, companies and newspapers have asked Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to find out more about the evolution and management of the pandemic that is still hitting Italy hard. The #datiBeneComune campaign, launched on 6 November with the aim of asking for more open data on COVID-19, has managed to involve a large number of people and organisations, because the issue affects so many people, so many different sectors. A month after the launch, the Government has still not responded to us.

DatiBeneComune: The same intent of the campaign can be found in amendment “87.020” of the Budget Law, which is being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies these days. It is entitled “Provisions on the implementation of COVID-19 data collection methods and procedures and full and accessible publication of data”.
The amendment was signed by 30 deputies belonging to 6 different political groups, including all those of the majority and one of the opposition.
The signatories also include three Commission Chairs and many MEPs who are members of the two Parliamentary Intergroups on Artificial Intelligence and on Innovation.
This is a further element that confirms that our objectives are increasingly valued. These are therefore supported and the possibility of building an increasingly large and united community, between civil society and Parliament, to carry on the battle for a ‘culture of data’ inside and outside the country’s institutions.

As further proof

As further proof, the Italian Statistical Society has also joined the initiative. The society, with its ‘Open letter on basic data and expertise‘ and a petition launched in parallel, adds value points to #datiBeneComune and emphasises ‘the fundamental importance of the availability of reliable data and high levels of expertise in analysing them to enable us to understand the pandemic, predict its evolution, prepare both health and economic policy tools to deal with it and evaluate the effects of the choices made’.

Today marks the end of this first phase of the campaign initiative, but we are preparing to work on other actions to increase attention to the issue of open data.

Two positive facts to highlight, related to the campaign:

  • the publication on the COVID-19 repository of the Civil Protection Department of the data on daily admissions to intensive care, by region, which the promoting organisations have been requesting for a long time (see official log). It will now be possible to know how many people – after being intubated – do not make it and how many, instead, manage to recover.
  • the data feeding the dashboard of the EpiCentro section of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità website have become a little more commonplace! In addition to the mere representation of the data, a data file in a format readable by a Personal Computer is now provided, and the script, i.e. the algorithm that calculates the national Rt index, is published, although a licensing problem remains to be solved.

However, despite tentative progress, most of the public information on COVID-19 in Italy continues to reside in periodically published PDFs. These are mostly scattered on the websites of the Ministry of Health and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. 

The promoters of the campaign therefore decided to create an accessible and usable space. This is to facilitate the work of journalists, researchers and all those interested in data. The space, thanks to an organic and up-to-date index, makes it possible to have all the information available in one place. This together with a documentary archive, which preserves the contents should the web pages where these documents are published be removed.

We learn two things from the campaign: there are a lot of people who are sensitive to the issue of data and accountability. In general, government and politics can no longer ignore this.

Secondly, it is not enough to collect signatures. Since there are so many people who are sensitive to the issue, it is essential to bring them together in order to influence policies.

More information on the DatiBeneComune campaign and the amendment to the budget law at datibenecomune.it.

Unilab Svoltastudenti

Carlo Giovani – Matteo Giugovaz

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