SMARTDEST is an EU-funded H2020 research project, bringing together 11 universities and 1 innovation centre from seven European and Mediterranean countries. It aims to develop innovative solutions in the face of the conflicts and externalities that are produced by tourism-related mobilities in cities, by informing the design of alternative policy options for more socially inclusive places in the age of mobilities.

From January 2020 the project will fill its ambitious goal through research and development activities using 8 cities/metropolitan regions. These include eight cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Jerusalem, Venice, Lisbon, Edinburgh, Ljubljana and Turin) in which social imbalances have arisen in relation to the contemporary development of tourism mobilities, and that are actively looking for solutions in the planning, regulatory or social innovation fields.

SerenDPT srl-sb leads the Venice Case Study.

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The effects of overtourism on urban societies represent emerging fields of (re)production of social exclusion, that are not finding structural solutions in mainstream urban planning and management models.

The smart city solutions of destinations are still to a larger extent to be proved how they represent an overall improvement for resident communities.


Venice’s population has dwindled from over 175.000 in 1951 to about 50.000 today, therefore the focus of our research is on the potential causes of the exclusion of residents from the Historic City and the Lagoon islands.

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTION: what forces have contributed to the exclusion of residents from the Historic City of Venice and the lagoon islands?

The Venice case study explores three hypotheses that may play a significant role in the exclusion of residents from the historic city of Venice (HC):

  1. Job Diversity. Hypothesis: the concentration of jobs in tourist-related businesses in Venice has led to a disparity between the median wages and the cost-of-living in the city (living wages) and a scarcity of jobs in non-tourist sectors.

  1. Housing. Hypothesis: the price vs. quality in Venetian housing, coupled with the aforementioned inadequate salaries, have made it difficult for Venetians to continue to live in their native city or for new citizens to move into the HC.

  1. Mobility. Hypothesis: while Venice retains a high-quality of living, it has failed to attract new inhabitants due in part to the slow nature of its waterborne transportation which, coupled with lack of car parking facilities for residents, represents a serious obstacle for business development, or for commuting in and out of the city, despite the potential for remote working enhanced by the covid crisis.



In a last stage of the research process, social and other stakeholders in each case study city will be invited to take part in a participatory process aiming at elaborating solutions in the face of social exclusionary processes produced by tourism mobilities, scaling up small-scale coping tactics to social and policy innovation. Such solutions may include innovative social arrangements, mediated or not by smart technology (as in the circular or collaborative economy), as well as planning and management innovations.


The Venice City Lab (VCL) plans to involve representatives from about 40 organizations that are active in the Venice HC divided into 8 thematic groups, based on 3 socio-economic sectors (Hospitality, Housing and Commerce), on 4 population segments (Residents, Workers, Youths, Students) and one infrastructure sector (Transportation).

The Venice City Lab will be physically conducted at SerenDPT’s H3 Factory (ex-church of Saints Cosmas and Damian) on the Giudecca island, but will also include hybrid online approaches, as needed. Ideally the VCL will become a long-term forum.

Through our one-on-one interviews with stakeholders, we hope to identify potential partners in the co-production of knowledge related to our main topics.

The long-term results we expect from our City Lab focus group sessions will include relationship building and brokering which may lead to coalition building and the potential formation of new groups that can carry the process forward beyond SmartDest.

Venice project center 's main contributions to the Smartdest Project:

  • WPI Venice Shops Data: recording the shops throughout the city to give a picture of the job diversity. Adding as integration AirBnb data to help understanding the evolving housing situation.

  • WPI Repository of vital metrics: a collection of data and visualizations created for researchers and residents throughout Venice.