Mayor Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo (Sicily, Italy),
The Global Parliament of Mayors initiated the Corona Crisis: Mayors Act Now Campaign to keep mayors informed and connected during the biggest global challenge of the 21st century. As a part of this campaign, the GPM has been collecting local initiatives from Mayors around the world to share expertise across continents and beyond borders. From Amsterdam to Zamboanga, through Lisbon, Freetown and Taipei mayors have shared important initiatives in their cities with their colleagues around the globe.
Our city has shared a variety of initiatives with fellow mayors from around the world. Palermo has instituted a virtual assistant, called "Genius of Palermo", which provides citizens with information on the current situation regarding COVID-19. The service will gradually have a multifunctional character and will be extended to information on tributes, cultural events, tourist destinations, and sports facilities.
We have also created a digital toolbox that facilitates the training of municipal staff while they are working from home. This toolbox consists of a training and tutorial support that allows municipal workers to operate with digital platforms. The resource has been well received and the initiative has been nominated by the Digital Republic Portal of the Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digitization to become part of the catalog of Italian digital good practices .
The Corona crisis has made us realize that the city has to change to function well and safely in the post-COVID era. Palermo took the opportunity to improve mobility in the city by expanding the network of pedestrian and cyclist paths as well as investing in care and bike sharing platforms. These measures are not only aimed at redesigning mobility, but also to decrease air pollution in the city. It is an arduous task in this time of crisis – redesigning a new, socially distant city, while implementing measures to fight COVID-19 and prevent a new wave of the pandemic with the ultimate goal to improve the city’s livability without leaving anyone behind.
From the 17th to the 19th of April 2021 the city of Palermo will host the Annual Summit of the Global Parliament of Mayors. Mayors from around the world will gather to address the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in cities, as well as the issue of global governance and the role of city leaders in times of a global crisis. During the crisis mayors have stepped-up not just locally, but nationally and regionally, often innovating solutions in a context of acute scarcity. We have used the challenges of the pandemic to improve mobility and digitalization in our city of Palermo and look forward to hearing from others on how they have responded to improve cities around the world.