A cloud without Google and Microsoft for all italian schools

A noble plan. How it will end, is another matter.

A cloud without Google and Microsoft for all italian schools /img/rete-unire.jpg

A bill just presented to the italian Senate proposes the establishment of one “single national interconnection network” called UNIRE (“to join”). The mission of this network would be to connect all italian schools with each other and to the Internet, with a private cloud, managed by the State.

This cloud would host platforms for digital teaching, alternatives to those of Google and Microsoft, maximizing data protection of underage students.

This post translates and comments the main points of an interview about UNIRE to the first signatory of the bill, senator Maria Laura Mantovani (Five Star Movement).

Objectives of both the Bill and UNIRE

The bill aims to implement the “School 4.0” intervention included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). More specifically, UNIRE would provide:

  • interconnection to all schools of all types and levels among themselves, with the regional school offices, with the Ministry of Education and globally to the Internet;
  • basic network services such as DNS, data storage services and cloud computing;
  • the basic infrastructure for all administrative and educational IT services (platform as a service);
  • IT security services and protected environments for teaching and integrated digital teaching.

Distance learning in UNIRE

UNIRE would also develop and supply one single national service for integrated digital teaching, with homogeneous performances for all schools. In fact, the Network will also be aimed at the creation and management, through a private cloud, of the didactic, administrative and related services for the recruitment of school staff.

Who will manage the Network?

A joint stock company wholly owned by the State, which will carry out the purposes indicated in the bill, should be established.

Preparing italian students to new professions

The bill also includes measures for the activation, inside high schools, of laboratories on new professions connected to artificial intelligence, robotics and digitization, as well as promoting collaboration between public and private sectors.

We’ll see…

The bill constitutes an important step in the practical implementation of the “School 4.0” Plan of the PNRR. The expected cost is 20 million euros from the year 2021, to be drawn from allocated funds. How will it end, in practice, is difficult to say. Consider this post as a reminder, for me and all readers, to come back to this issue in 2022, and see what actually happened.

Image source: Banner of an italian commentary, by Binario Etico, of the UNIRE law proposal