2020 | Infratel Italia

Building Connections with Infratel Italy

Visual Analytics, Dataviz, Data Journalism, and Open data

At the beginning of 2020, Italian telecommunications provider Infratel contacted Accurat to redesign a website for the BUL project: an ambitious plan to boost internet connectivity throughout the country. Come spring and the COVID–19 outbreak in Europe, the project took on a new level of urgency.


The Banda Ultralarga Strategic Plan ("BUL") was announced in 2015 with a mea culpa from government officials and a promise that by 2020, infrastructure to support broadband internet connection would reach every household in Italy. The Ministry of Economic Development’s in-house agency, Infratel Italia, was appointed to lead development. But progress proceeded more slowly than expected, and at the beginning of 2020, construction had only been completed in 92 of the country’s 8,000 municipalities. Impacted citizens—especially those in suburban and rural areas where internet speeds disadvantaged them—were growing impatient.

New leadership arrived at Infratel in January 2020, with the appointment of CEO Marco Bellezza. By then, delivering on the government's pledge by the end of the year would be impossible. The first priority remained construction, but nearly as important, Infratel needed to reestablish a trustworthy bond with citizens. To do this, Bellezza’s team took a critical look at the information available on the BUL Plan’s website and committed to becoming more user–centric. He enlisted Accurat to build a new web experience that would answer a deceptively simple question (“When will high-speed internet access arrive in my town?”) with precise data.

Then, the coronavirus arrived in Italy.


While the pandemic halted on–the–ground construction, the building of a platform to provide reliable updates on internet connectivity became more important than ever. Infratel pursued an aggressive launch date: six weeks from kickoff to go–live. The only way for us to meet deadlines would be to collaborate closely, remotely.

Our first task was to check the integrity of the site’s building blocks: data inherited from previous partners. The information was couched in a massive, abstruse file, and parsing it became a joint effort with Infratel’s Engineering and Data Integration department. We worked together to discern content that would help create a better, more meaningful experience for users. While Infratel’s analysts gathered missing figures, our developers built the website’s foundation with deputy placeholders. “We designed around the data,” data scientist and developer Alessio Izzo explains.

In action, this meant that designers worked in lock–step with developers. “We followed the pace of development and even the techniques of it,” experience designer Elisa Spigai elaborates. For her, this meant envisioning every imaginable navigation scenario and communicating continually with developers to design user flows inclusive of them all. “I kept it flexible,” she says candidly.

Complicating matters throughout the process, our team was like many others in the spring of 2020: strewn throughout the country. “A lot of people decided to go to their parents' homes, or to the seaside, where connection is usually worse,” project lead Pietro Guinea Montalvo offers anecdotally. The circumstances may have given designers an extra dose of empathy for end–users, and in any case, it drove the point home that appearance–wise, the new website for BUL would need to accommodate longterm residents of remote regions as well as their new urban transplant neighbors.

We adopted the map–based interface of the BUL Plan’s earlier website, along with the Ministry’s traditional blue color palette. Updates to the interface become more evident once a user engages to access a comparable trove of information.


The new BUL Plan website launched without a hitch in June, 2020, with improvements to its predecessor's core functionality plus new features aimed at making Infratel's work more transparent. Data visualization, a key component of the BUL Plan’s rejuvenated visual identity, figures prominently. As both a tool for communication and a showcase for missions accomplished, it reflects Infratel’s dual motivations in launching a new website: to welcome dialogue, and to elucidate how complex projects come to fruition.
Whereas the previous map might have shown the broad situation of an entire region, the new experience delineates each municipality and relays its status with easy-to-understand terms that clarify distinctions (for example, “In Progress” encompasses four sub-stages that include “Implementation” and “Testing”). Colors, rendered in a gradient form, evoke a feeling of progression in contrast to the prior design’s solid hues.
A sidebar visualization adjusts to show progress according to the six defined stages of development, depending on locale.
An expanded system of color-coding shows six stages of development, and differentiates between wireless and fiber connections.

Given the granularity of data—which could present as overwhelming if not contextualized—designers bore in mind navigation. Unintrusive text directs users at each stage of a typical journey to more specific details

At any point, users can opt out of map–based exploration and search for the status of a town, neighborhood, and even address with the help of a chat assistant. And with the latest release, there’s a way to check local progress with even less effort. An integration with voice-activated devices like Alexa and Telegram allows users to inquire about broadband construction, just as they might ask about the weather.

A new editorial section features interactive tools for practical usage and research, plus data–driven strorytelling related to Infratel’s work. More generally, it's also intended to educate citizens on digital innovations made possible by widespread broadband access.

“The collaboration with Accurat began at a crucial moment for the development of the country's digital infrastructures. The solutions put forth by Accurat represent a leap forward in progress in terms of the transparency and accessibility of information we provide to citizens.”

— Marco Bellezza, CEO, Infratel Italia


Leading newspaper Corriere della Sera described the new BUL plan at launch as “Già estremamente precisa” or “already extremely precise,” while noting with admiration that more advanced features were forthcoming. The completion of the entire endeavor in less than two months was a display of nimbleness not often associated with companies in the public sector: an accomplishment even in ordinary times.
Simone Quadri
Pietro Guinea Montalvo
Cesare Soldini
Matteo Fabbri
Tommaso Renzini
Stefania Guerra
Elisa Spigai
Alessandro Zotta
Ruggero Castagnola
Vito Latrofa
Luca Mattiazzi
Alessio Izzo
Marco Fugaro
Serena Girardi
Ivan Rossi
Ilaria Venturini
Stefano Gallo
Tommaso Poletti
Edoardo Guido
Andrea Pronzati
Arianna Meroni
Visual Analytics
Data Journalism
Open data
Dataviz, Experience, WebApp, and Mobile App Design
Dataviz, Data Art, and Exhibition


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