Moni-thon” comes from “monitor” and “marathon”, and this is precisely what this platform seeks to help with: an intensive activity of observing and reporting of public policies in Italy.

What’s there to monitor?  Monithon was born as an independently developed initiative to promote the citizen monitoring of development projects funded both by the Italian government and the EU through the Cohesion (aka. Regional) Policy. Projects include a wide range of interventions such as large transport, digital, research or environmental infrastructures (railroads, highways, broadband networks, waste management systems…), aids to enterprises to support innovation and competitiveness, and other funding for energy efficiency, social inclusion, education and training, occupation and workers mobility, tourism, etc.

Citizen monitoring of these projects is possible thanks to a combination of open government data and citizens’ collaboration, joined by the goal of controlling how the projects are progressing, and whether they deliver actual results.

On 19 January 2013 it was fun to organize the first civic monitoring visit in Bologna, Italy. We were a small group of journalists, public administrators and curious citizens. The “Bar Giuseppe”, right in the city center, which had received public funding to renovate its premises, intrigued us immediately. The bar was closed! But we went back there the following year. We went to take photos and knock at the door of schools in Bologna that had received funds from the Province to finance works, putting all acquired information into a Google Doc.

The initial civic monitoring group in Bologna (2013)

It immediately became clear that just one day was not enough for a proper monitoring. We needed to make appointments for interviews, to analyze data before hand in order to find the exact address of the projects to inspect, to collect all the details in one place…. proper research work that requires weeks or months, as well as appropriate means. Basically what we call Slow Hacking.

The turning point was the Open Data Day in Bari and the Journalism Festival in Perugia in 2014 which followed. During the event’s hackathon, the website Monithon.it was created: at the time it was a large map that pinpointed the most interesting projects to monitor. The code was based on an adaptation of the open source project Ushahidi, which had been used to monitor elections in Nairobi. The group included data journalists, analysts, activists and open data enthusiasts.

The Monithon team at the EU Hackathon in Bruxelles (2015)

With a zero budget, a bit for the sake of it, a bit for civic passion and a bit for the pleasure of sharing this passion with an open and curious community, Monithon evolved into a methodology and a platform to share the results of monitoring initiatives. The Civic Monitoring Reports allow us to collect information that can be compared even when prepared by different monitoring groups. While these groups spread to almost all Italian regions, thanks to the campaigns launched during the Open Data Day of 2014 and the “Primavera di Monitoraggio Civico” (Spring of Civic Monitoring) of 2015, a central staff was involved in developing common instruments, in supporting activities on the field and validating reports that were being prepared for publication.

The first concrete results were celebrated by no less than the UN’s General Assembly during the Open Government Partnership Awards, which saw the participation of Barack Obama: here the partnership between OpenCoesione-Monithon representing Italy at the event was ranked fourth in the world. The judges were struck by the capacity of a government initiative for open data to actively involve so many people.

Monithon has continued to grow over the years thanks to the schools that take part in the project A Scuola di OpenCoesione, but also thanks to the involvement of universities, local communities and national associations, as a shared and open-to-all instrument and a format to plan and structure civic curiosity.

Monithon in the press (ITA)

Monithon e risultati del monitoraggio civico
Redazione di A Scuola di OpenCoesione – OpenCoesione, June 15, 2018

Altri due anni di monitoraggio civico: il report aggiornato sui risultati di Monithon
by Natascia Blumetti – PON Governance e capacità istituzionale 2014-2020, June 14, 2018

Quasi 300 nuovi report di monitoraggio sulla piattaforma Monithon grazie al lavoro di A Scuola di OpenCoesione
Redazione – Studiare Sviluppo, June 14, 2018

Parco archeologico di Sibari: restaurare in trasparenza
Wind Transparency Forum, April 6, 2017

Sibari rinasce da trasparenza e partecipazione
by Marco De Ponte – Corriere.it, March 29, 2017

Calabria: cittadini a scuola di data journalism e partecipazione
by Giuseppe Recchia – La Stampa, March 29, 2017

L’Europa finanzia il «monitoraggio civico» degli appalti, cittadini impegnati nei controlli su 4 interventi in Italia
Il Sole 24 Ore – Edilizia e Territorio, 17 Febbraio 2017

Sibari, gli open data controlleranno i lavori del parco archeologico
by Ludovico Fontana – Corriere Innovazione, 16 Febbraio 2017

Trasparenza, partecipazione e innovazione: così Sibari rinascerà
dal blog “LibeRIscatti” di Today.it, 15 Febbraio 2017

A Scuola di OpenCoesione
by Francesco Carollo – Gli Stati Generali, 7 Novembre 2014

I beni confiscati organizzati creano cultura contro le mafie
by Andrea Borruso – Nova – Il Sole 24 Ore, 29 Giugno 2014

Ma non basta per fare Open data
by Maurizio Napolitano – Nova24 tech, 29 Giugno 2014

Monitoraggio civico dal basso
by Rosy Battaglia – Nova, 29 Giugno 2014

L’apertura dei dati può combattere la corruzione
by Rosy Battaglia – Nova24 tech, 29 Giugno 2014

La trasparenza è di moda, anche in Europa
by Redazione – Centro Europe Direct Terni, 16 Giugno 2014

Monitoraggio civico: così gli open data educano alla cittadinanza
by Paola Liliana Buttiglione e Luigi Reggi – Queste Istituzioni, 9 Giugno 2014

La trasparenza dei bilanci e l’individuazione dei beneficiari si fa con gli Open Data
by Gianluigi Cogo – Pionero, 6 Giugno 2014

Monithon e OpenCoesione sono la best practice italiana candidata agli OGP Awards!
by Luigi Reggi – Innovatori PA, 3 Giugno 2014

Open Government Awards: la piu’ votata e’ OpenCoesione
by Alessio Sfienti – Pionero, 1 Giugno 2014

PA: Open Coesione e Monithon candidati agli Open Government Awards
by Angela Lamboglia – FASI30 Maggio 2014

Circolare MIUR. Oggetto: progetto A Scuola di OpenCoesione 28 Maggio 2014

Confiscati Bene. Open Data meglio
by Vincenzo Moretti – Nova, 27 Maggio 2014

Open Government Awards: al via la consultazione pubblica
by Redazione – Enti Locali, 26 Maggio 2014

Trasparenza civica per le bonifiche
by Rosy Battaglia – Nova24 tech 25 Maggio 2014

Fondi europei: perché vengono spesi dall’Italia poco e male. Intervista al Prof. Luciano Monti
by Marzia Roncacci – RAI TG 2, 22 Maggio 2014

L’Italia candida OpenCoesione agli Open Government Awards
by Stefano Pizzicannella – Innovatori PA, 21 Maggio 2014

Fondi Ue: Barca, si renda operativa l’Agenzia per la Coesione
by Alessandra Fiora ed Andrea Gallo – FASI 18 Aprile 2014

Open data, il 2014 può essere l’anno della svolta
by Vincenzo del Giudice – Corriere delle Comunicazioni, 6 Aprile 2014

Osservatore Lucano, la visione
di Nicola Bisceglia – Osservatore Lucano, 6 Aprile 2014

Webinar Open Government: collaborazione e dati generati dai cittadini
by Gianfranco Andriola – Innovatori PA, 11 Marzo 2014

Come si investe nella cultura? Scopriamolo con Monithon
by FranLeu – Storia ad Arte4 Marzo 2014

Risvegliare il senso civico con un “monithon”
by Giulio di Chiara – Medium, 3 Marzo 2014

Combattere il crimine con gli open data sui beni confiscati
by Alberto Cottica – OpenPompei, 3 Marzo 2014

Monithon: il monitoraggio civico delle politiche pubbliche
by Redazione – CAPIRe newsletter n. 86, Marzo 2014

Monithon, il monitoraggio dei cittadini arriva a Torino
by Matteo Fontanone – Digi.TO, 26 Febbraio 2014

Open Data: la pubblica amministrazione diventa innovativa
by Redazione – Tiscali: Ultimora, 25 Febbraio 2014

Monithon – La maratona del monitoraggio civico
by Ylenia Cafaro – Cultura Digitale Magazine, 25 Febbraio 2014

Così possiamo controllare come vengono spesi i fondi strutturali europei
by Luigi Reggi – CheFuturo, 21 Febbraio 2014

Monithon, dai dati aperti al monitoraggio civico il passo breve delle comunità intelligenti
by Eleonora Bove – ForumPA, 20 Febbraio 2014

Per una seconda fase degli Open Data in Italia
by Gianni Dominici – Saperi PA, 20 Febbraio 2014

Open Data in Italia, cosa è cambiato in un anno? Facciamo il punto con Spaghetti Open Data
by Francesca Battistoni, Saperi PA, 18 Febbraio 2014

International Open Data Day
by Redazione – Sviluppo Lazio, 17 Febbraio 2014

Monitorare gli investimenti pubblici? Ora possono farlo tutti
by Cinzia Roma – Quattrogatti.info, 15 Febbraio 2014

Vuoi diventare maratoneta dei dati? Partecipa a Monithon!
by Summer School – Progetto Rena, Febbraio 2014

Gemellaggio Bologna-Cosenza nel nome degli open data
by Alessio Cimarelli – Dataninja, Febbraio 2014

Monithon in Italy’s official guidelines for the re-use of public sector information

Monithon is mentioned in the guidelines from the Italian government as an example of effective collaboration between government and civil society – 5 stars of open data for engagement (p. 58)

Monithon in Calabria’s position paper on the future of EU Policy

Calabria Region, one of the main recipient of EU Structural and Investment Funds in Italy, on November 30, 2017, included a series of interesting suggestions and ideas in a position paper on how to improve the information and communication activities of the EU Operational Programmes.  Civic Monitoring is cited as a tool to develop a “more open and participatory dimension” of institutional communication, which should include the bottom-up contribution of local communities to the evaluation of the results of funded projects.

Post 2020 programming should, more in general, see the implementation of a wide range of measures whose objective would be to give cohesion policy a more open and participatory dimension.  It would also be a good idea to systematically involve schools and universities – the former within the framework of education and citizenship and the latter to encourage them to use the results of cohesion policy in their curricula, workshops and research activities. Other initiatives could be the setting-up of community-based monitoring activities and “bottom-up” evaluations such as what was organised in Italy under the name of Monithon.

Monithon in scientific articles

Graeff, Erhardt (2018). Evaluating Civic Technology Design for Citizen Empowerment. PhD Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD Dissertation

Gascó-Hernández, M., Martin, E. G., Reggi, L., Pyo, S., & Luna-Reyes, L. F. (2018). Promoting the use of open government data: Cases of training and engagement. Government Information Quarterly, 35(2), 233-242.

Danneels, L., Viaene, S., & Van den Bergh, J. (2017). Open data platforms: Discussing alternative knowledge epistemologies. Government Information Quarterly, 34(3), 365-378.

Gascó-Hernández, M., Martin, E.G., Reggi, L., Pyo, S., Luna-Reyes, LF. (2017). Citizen Co-production through Open Data: Cases of Citizen Training and Engagement, presented at the 18th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research, New York, USA.

Russo, V. (2017). Semantic Web: Metadata, Linked Data, Open Data. Science & Philosophy3(2), 37-46.
Paper

Reggi, L. & Montanari, M. (2016). Civic monitoring of public policy: the case of the Monithon.it platform, presented at NordiCHI Conference, 23-27 Oct 2016, Gothenburg, Sweden
Paper

Reggi, L., & Dawes, S. (2016). Open Government Data Ecosystems: Linking Transparency for Innovation with Transparency for Participation and Accountability. In J. H. Scholl, O. Glassey, M. Janssen, B. Klievink, I. Lindgren, P. Parycek, E. Tambouris, A. M. Wimmer, T. Janowski, & D. Sá Soares (Eds.), Electronic Government: 15th IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference, EGOV 2016, Guimarães, Portugal, September 5-8, 2016, Proceedings (pp. 74-86). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Paper

Lo Russo, M. (2016). Chi utilizza i dati aperti della politica di coesione, come e perché. Materiale UVAL n. 34. Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, NUVAP.
Paper

Cavicchi, V. (2016). Tracce Open per il Garda. Matematica e cittadinanza per l’inclusione. Paper presentato al convegno “Nessuno escluso. Trasformare la scuola e l’apprendimento per realizzare l’educazione inclusiva”, Università di Bergamo, Italy.
Paper

Faini, F., & Palmirani, M. (2016). Italian Open and Big Data Strategy. In International Conference on Electronic Government and the Information Systems Perspective (pp. 105-120). Springer International Publishing.

De Chiara, F., Reggi, L., Napolitano, M., Buttiglione, P.L. (2015). The Value of Open Data for European Cohesion, paper presented at the 22nd International Conference of Europeanists, Science Po, Paris, France. July 7.

Abstract

Buttiglione, P.L. and Reggi, L. (2015). Citizen monitoring of cohesion policies and the development of civic communities (in Italian). Prisma – Economia, Società, Lavoro. Issue 1, pp.81-97. Franco Angeli.
Preprint

Russo, V. (2015). Semantic Web: Metadata, Linked Data, Open Data. Science & Philosophy3(2), 37-46.

Zola, D., Naletto, G., & Andreis, S. (2015). How to do (good) things with data. Civil society data-driven engagement for societal progress and innovation. Retrieved from Rome, Italy

Ciociola, C., & Reggi, L. (2015). A Scuola di OpenCoesione: From Open Data to Civic Engagement. In J. Atenas & L. Havemann (Eds.), Open Data As Open Educational Resources: Case Studies of Emerging Practice. London: Open Knowledge, Open Education Working Group. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1590031

Quintili, C., & Mariotti, S. (2015). Commenti. Prisma, 1(1), 182-185.

Piovesan, F., Guerzoni, M., & Bertacchini, E. (2015). Beyond standards and regulations: Obstacles to local open government data initiatives in Italy and France
Paper

Stürmer, M. (2014). Mehr Transparenz und Mitwirkung bei oeffentlichen Finanzen: Open Finance Apps in der Schweiz und im Ausland.

Canova, L., Vetro, A., Torchiano, M., Iemma, R., & Morando, F. (2014). OpenCoesione and Monithon-a transparency effort. Available at : http://porto.polito.it/2561746/

Vargiu, A. (2014). Logiche di accountability e riforme del sistema universitario. Una discussione e una proposta. RIV Rassegna Italiana di Valutazione.

OECD. (2014). How’s Life in Your Region? Measuring Regional and Local Well-being for Policy Making
Report