WISDOM ACROSS THE BOARD   //   INTERVIEW #13

A couple of weeks ago this series introduced you to Andrea Cruciani, a member of FIWARE Foundation’s Board of Directors (BoD). This week, we bring you a perspective from Federico Facca, a member of the FIWARE BoD since 2019. Federico is the CTO and head of Martel Lab at MARTEL Innovate, a Swiss-based consultancy with more than 20 years’ experience managing innovation projects across Europe and worldwide. Before we dive into his perspective and work within the Board, let’s get to know him a bit better, shall we?

Since his childhood, Federico has been passionate about technologies and how they work. From repairing toys and computers, he has been all over it. He started coding in primary school “in BASIC and LOGO on the C64 of my aunt, and then moved over to an AMIGA 500” he tells us. But what has always intrigued him the most is humans’ ability to create, share and reproduce smart digital environments, in a simpler and immediate way than carpentering and constructing, for instance. “Try making and sharing 1000 copies of a carpentering work in a few seconds. This is the passion that led me to study Computer Engineering, and ultimately join MARTEL in 2016”.

Ok, I hear you: Federico may come across as the nerdy type. He will most likely agree to that statement. But here he tells me that he has other passions too. He has been a ‘globetrotter’ since he was born, as his parents took him in the family camper around Europe and beyond. “The memories I built as a kid while traveling are now serving as guidance to take my own ‘small globetrotters’ around the world. Of course, I also try to learn recipes from every place we visit.” His Italian roots mean food is a big part of his life and it seems he can cook international dishes, from Italian pizza to Mexican guacamole, to Chinese almond chicken, to Thai Pad Thai….

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FIWARE Foundation: Why do you want to be on FIWARE Foundation’s Board of Directors?

Federico Facca: Having an active role in the steering wheel of an Open Source community is an exciting challenge. I have always been very supportive of Open Source, and this is mostly the reason I have been engaged with FIWARE activities now for a long time. Initially, mostly in the Technical Steering Committee and since last year also in the Board of Directors. I think FIWARE is having a great impact on the European digitalisation journey.

 

Thus, despite MARTEL being a small company, we try to contribute actively to FIWARE. Thus, being recognised for our contribution and helping the community to grow is of crucial importance for me. Being in the Board of Directors allows me and MARTEL to add our views – as an SME and developer of FIWARE-based solutions – to the strategic direction and growth plans of FIWARE Foundation.  

FIWARE Foundation: What experiences do you bring from your current role and your career to date that would be valuable to the foundation?

Federico Facca: As the CTO of a small company, I believe I bring quite a valuable perspective and contribution. Let’s remember that the European economy is largely based on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and these companies’ contribution to the economy is fundamental and cannot be taken for granted.

 

Beyond that, given that I am actively involved in both technical and commercial activities within my company, I can help the BoD when it comes to tackling issues that have technical implications, and helping them to better comprehend the challenges and strengths faced by current FIWARE-based solutions. 

 

Moreover, I can provide the board with my perspective on what the priorities should be, with regards to the FIWARE community and the evolution of the technology. I also bring to the table not just my experience with customers in the Smart City domain, but also my vision on the importance of IoT for sustainable development. Currently, MARTEL is supporting the association Digital for Planet (D4P’s). 

 

Aiming to gather small, medium, and large public and private organisations that can boost the positive impact of a responsible and ethical digital transformation on society and on the planet, whilst also fostering the development of sustainable, open, inclusive, trustworthy, verifiable, and ethical digital technologies and solutions, D4P’s core mission is to drive and promote their adoption across a variety of domains, encouraging environmental awareness, sustainable development and engaging social and economic parties into digital sustainability dialogues and innovation.

FIWARE Foundation: From your perspective, what are FIWARE Foundation’s biggest strengths and challenges for the upcoming years? What role does Open Source play in overcoming the challenging scenarios?

Federico Facca: FIWARE started out as an European funded project. It took quite some time for it to become the strong and ever-growing Open Source community it is now. The community has surely become innovative, not just from a technology standpoint, but also from a business model aspect.

 

Now, in terms of challenges, an even wider adoption is the key step to be taken, which is not always an easy task. Although I do believe that the foundation is on a good path, there is always a general risk of losing its innovative appeal when focusing on the adoption of what the FIWARE technology looks like today. Finding the right balance between growing the community and improving the technology has to be a priority, a strategic focus for the foundation. Technology shall never lag behind as adoption then risks to slow down.

 

That is why it is important that, while adoption is growing, the number of contributors to the community is equally rising and the technological strategic direction has to be a constant focus for FIWARE Foundation’s management and its Committees. However, a high number of developers do not always guarantee market success: quite often, Open Source projects die despite a high number of adopters, because either the community behind it gets dispersed or it lacks new people joining in.

 

With regards to Open Source, I see it as a way to drive innovation and stimulate collaboration between many different platforms and the public and private sector. It may take time, but soon enough, Open Source-based will further prove to be more innovative, sustainable and interoperable.

FIWARE Foundation: Where do you see FIWARE Foundation three years from now and what will your contribution to its further growth be? 

Federico Facca: I wish that in the next three years the number of projects that are beyond a proof-of-concept reach higher levels of maturity. This is generally a challenge in the Smart City arena. We have seen that decision time and investments are slow, and often from proof-of-concept to other stages, cities are taking quite some time to move forward. Clearly FIWARE is not the only one dealing with this challenge as many smart city solution providers and organisations working within the field are trying to tackle the issue.

 

On the other hand, I personally believe it is a problem for the future of our world: we have to tackle so many challenges to make this world better, and without the help of digital technologies such as FIWARE, we will not be able to leave a better place for our kinds to live in. Hence, I and Martel will do our utmost to promote this vision and support FIWARE in creating a better tomorrow. We want our legacy to have a positive impact on future generations.

Stay with us as next week we catch up with Antonio Jara, a member of the FIWARE Foundation BoD and the CEO at HOPU, a company focused on the research and development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities solutions.