ROME — The city of Bologna, Italy, has announced a pilot program to reward “virtuous” citizens for recycling, taking public transportation, and curbing energy usage.

The program, which has been likened to China’s social credit system, is slated to go into effect in September, 2022, using a “smart citizen wallet” app for cell phones.

“In September, we will start with a pilot project for the city: at the center is the virtuous citizen, the one who, for example, separates waste well or does not waste energy, or uses public transport and does not receive fines, or actively uses the Bologna Welcome Card,” announced Massimo Bugani, councilor for the city’s digital agenda and civic use of data, at a press conference late last month.

“The municipality will assign such citizens a score as part of a reward system with economic benefits to individual users,” Bugani explained.

Citizens will have access to their rating, which can be improved by earning points that they may then “spend” on prizes such as rebates and cultural activities as a reward for their “virtuous behavior.”

Bugani stated that the app was part of a broader initiative by the city of Bologna to engage in digital innovation. “What we call a new ‘water system’ for the city is being built,” he said, adding that in coming years “many services will go digital in Italy; we have an ambitious project here that is built on solid foundations.”

Although Bugani has insisted that participation in the program will be voluntary, he has expressed his confidence that many will enroll.

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