Nexa Center Annual Report 2012

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Presented in 2012 during the Board of Trustees meeting of the Nexa Center
Federico Morando, et al.
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23 June 2012

The annual report is available in PDF format.

During its 5th year of activity, the Nexa Center achieved important results in several thematic domains. Its output included scientific publications, policy proposals, white papers, software tools, outreach initiatives (both off- and on-line) and teaching activities.

In the open data field, the European Commission officially acknowledged the role of the LAPSI project, led by the Nexa Center, in the ongoing review of the Public Sector Information Directive. At the same time the Center had a crucial role in the drafting of the first open data regional law in Italy, which was approved by the Piedmont Regional Council in December 2011. Both policy results were a direct consequence of the work performed within the EVPSI Piedmont-funded research project on public open data, a project which also produced a rich set of publications and working papers (as well as a white paper addressing Italian policymakers and civil servants).

Regarding the public domain, the Communia project delivered its final and arguably more tangible fruits, in the form of a final report (which includes both a synthesis of the academic results facilitated by the project and its main policy recommendations) and of the Communia bookThe Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture”, both published in March 2012 and both freely available online.

In the Internet monitoring and analysis domain, the Neubot project delivered several new releases of the piece of software designed to implement a distributed monitoring of network quality and of network neutrality violations, as well as scientific articles, including an article awarded the "best student paper award" at a IEEE international symposium in Greece in July 2011. During the reporting period, Neubot has also been accepted by MLAB, the well-known network measurement platform.

The work of the Center in the fundamental rights online domain produced a detailed Nexa contribution to a consultation of the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) about online copyright. Among the contributors, the Nexa Center was unfortunately the only academic entity: we hope that our example will inspire other Italian universities in the future. The work of the Center about anonymity online (inspired by the now defunct, infamous “Pisanu decree”) contributed to the approval of a Piedmont regional law about free and open access to public Wi-Fi, which is, among other things, arguably the first Italian public act acknowledging that it is now possible to offer Internet access without prior strong identification of the users.

The Nexa Center has also inaugurated - within the context of the official courses of the Politecnico di Torino - its teaching activity via “Digital Revolution”, a first-year undergraduate course which summarizes many of the results of almost ten years of activities of the informal group that gave birth to the Nexa Center. The course was fully registered, with over 130 students registered to attend, plus several auditors (see http://rivoluzionedigitale.polito.it).

Regarding dissemination and communications activities, in December 2011 the Center launched the new version of the website of the Center, which in later months has contributed to a very strong increase (+380%) of the number of unique visitors, which has climbed to almost 1,000 per day as of early June 2012. In the same month, December 2011, the Center held a very successful edition of the Nexa Conference devoted to open data (with the usual Creative Commons session).

The second part of the year also witnessed some new entries in the core staff of the Center, the kick-offs of two new EU-funded projects, i.e, EINS and Open-DAI, and the submission to the European Commission of three new project proposals, i.e., PROSA (as coordinator), Share-PSI 2.0 and LAPSI 2.0. During the same months a laborious negotiation has been under way (and still is) with AGCOM about a research project on Internet content, which includes also Bocconi University (prof. F. Sacco) and Naples University (prof. G. Ventre).

2012 also brought new partnership agreements, including one with the Internet & Society Lab at Keio University (Tokyo, Japan), which follows on the footstep of a similar one signed with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University in Spring 2011, and the first steps of a joint-venture with the Italian non-profit foundation lettera27 aiming at extending the scope of activities of Creative Commons Italia, one of the flagship projects of the Nexa Center since its inception.