TIMES Lab will respond to a new strategic need emerging from the largest flood in the region in recent decades, which took place in May 2023 and affected 44 municipalities. During the emergency, an unexpected phenomenon occurred: a mass mobilisation of young volunteers spontaneously intervened using informal communication channels. This phenomenon was both a great resource and a critical issue to manage for Civil Protection. The Lab will apply the foresight method to design future scenarios that bring together the social response in emergencies, new governance schemes/planning tools, and potential interaction with new dedicated technologies to understand spontaneous social phenomena of volunteering by making the local community a protagonist in the preparation and response to future crises, with a collaborative approach.

Key Features

Cesena is a vibrant city located in the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy, 15km away from the Adriatic coast, with a population of about 97,000 inhabitants (2023). Together with Forlì, it is the capital of the Forlì-Cesena Province. Since 2015, Cesena has led the Union of Municipalities of Savio Valley, composed of five other municipalities. The city emerged and developed within the natural matrix represented by the hilly and agricultural landscape along the Savio River. This is the longest blue-green corridor in the Romagna area, along with the dense network of green infrastructures represented by over 400 green areas and urban forests. The economy of Cesena has traditionally been linked to agriculture and today has a great propensity for innovation, promoting sustainability.

Main Challenges

TIMES Lab will work on three strategic areas (Civil Protection, Social and Community Welfare, Digital and Communication) to address the following key challenges: 

  • Strengthen local community preparedness for future crises: analyse the social aspects of risk management at city level, set a database on community resilience practices during a crisis event and map the community resources of the civil society in order to better prepare and respond to future adverse events, activate and coordinate the local resources within the Civil Protection system and to develop new skills on mutual help and emergency psychology. 
  • Increase the capacity of the Civil Protection System to engage, manage and communicate with spontaneous volunteer movements, decreasing the perceived and concrete gap between the population, volunteers, the rescuers and authorities. Establish effective governance schemes within the municipality to improve the Civil Protection System and develop inclusive digital tools as accessible interface to improve communication.


The key focus is on making the local community protagonist in preparing to manage future crises. The lab will involve them directly in the design of future scenarios, by bringing together the social response and community resilience in emergencies and the potential interaction with new ICT tools, which will also support the city to effectively manage social phenomena of volunteering in the future. The combination of participative processes and use of digital tools are key elements for supporting decision making processes for crisis management.

Stakeholder and citizen engagement will be achieved through a systematic approach including surveys and interviews to understand the challenges and info days to raise awareness. This will include local and regional stakeholders, including public actors such as the municipality, E-R region, Regional Agency for environmental prevention and Regional Health Unit; private actors like Cesena Urban Innovation Lab or Cesena Business incubators, as well as third sectors stakeholders including council of neighbourhoods, Association BARCO (supporting volunteers). A final event will be dedicated to transfer the Lab concept at regional level, with an active role of the Regional Agency and ANCI Emilia-Romagna.