Friday, August 21, 2009

Veninomics (B09)

The team working on this project will study the various economies that interact in Venice, with a primary focus on the evolution of retail stores and on tourism and all related businesses, both formal and informal.
It is clear that the primary economic force in Venice is tourism, but questions remain as to how much of the wealth generated by visitors actually stays in Venice and percolates through to the citizens and to the local government that provides key services, such as public transportation, garbage removal, local policing, safety and security. This team will begin to answer this key question.
The team will revamp our ongoing series of projects on the Retail Sector and design a web application that will allow anyone to contribute information about what store was located where and when starting after World War II and until today. The online application will initially contain the data we have collected to date. Technical assistance will be provided by VPC staff as needed.
Keeping in mind that this is going to be the first of several projects in the years to come, the students will also explore the semi-formal (souvenir stalls and carts) and informal (illegal) economies such as the network of Rom beggars, the bag peddlers from West Africa, the flower sellers from Bagladesh, etc., in an attempt to quantify the various sub-sectors of the tourist industry, starting -- of course -- from any published literature on the subject.
Moreover, the team will leverage the information collected by Forma Urbis on the plateatici (e.g. restaurant tables in the squares) and include an economic assessment of the value of each square meter of tables and chairs that are placed on "leased" public space, possibly suggesting a new pricing scheme based on the paper published by Prof. Carrera et al. a few years back.
Based on existing data, as well as newly collected information, the team will also investigate the actual costs of Acqua Alta (high tides), both in terms of damage and loss of property/merchandise, as well as in terms of lost productivity and sales due to flooded streets and compare these costs (over a decade, say) to the loss of revenue experienced after 9/11 or during the ongoing global financial crisis.
The team will touch upon all of these areas in terms of literature review, and will pursue as many of these lines as possible, upon consultation with the advisors. The team will plan the pursuit of the remaining research ideas for future student teams.
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