CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR A SMART TRANSITION – SMART VILLAGES
Alpine space rural communities are deprived of highly needed jobs, good provision of services as well as a favourable climate for entrepreneurship and social innovation, which result in a brain drain. Digitalization is a promising approach to counter the situation. However the digital divide between rural and urban areas has even increased in the last years. A smart village (SV) approach for mountain areas could unlock the potential of local actors to make their region a more attractive place to live and work. The project aims to apply a SV approach and bring together – in so called Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSGs) – policy makers, business, academia and civil society in a quadruple helix approach (4H) to improve the framework for innovation through new forms of stakeholder involvement facilitated by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This includes the following elements, involving the RSGs on every step: 1) In regional analyses the SV ecosystem in test areas (TAs) is described (WPT1); 2) a digital exchange platform (DEP) is implemented for the exchange on the SV approach (WPT2); 3) During the project, the SV toolbox is developed in the TAs in parallel to pilot activities (PAs) in order to enhance networks and services by means of digital, telecommunication technologies, innovations and the better use of knowledge. The information will finally be combined into one transnational toolbox (WPT3); 4) recommendations are formulated to facilitate the transformation of project results into policies (WPT4). The proposed "Smart Villages" project is a strategic initiative of EUSALP AG 5 and follows an integrative, participatory approach implying a city-village dialogue. The direct beneficiaries are local/regional authorities and administrations, SMEs, public service providers, regional development agencies and NGOs which will receive a concrete guidance to implement the SV approach.
The project creates opportunities for a smart transition of municipalities and regions in mountainous areas through new forms of stakeholder involvement facilitated by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The project contributes to better framework conditions for innovation on two aspects – the organisational/societal part (working with RSGs involving policy level, academia, business and civil society) and the technical part (DEP and toolbox with new digital products) and combining the strengths of both sides. Finally the transfer of the results to the policy level contributes to improve the political framework conditions for digital innovation.
What has been achieved?
In the first project period all partners performed management activities and contributed under the lead of the respective workpackage lead partners to WPT1 (Regional analysis of readiness and needs for a Smart Transition in the Test Areas), WPT2 (Open Digital Smart Village Exchange Platform), WPT3 (Digital Smart Village Toolbox and pilot activity implementation) and WPC (Communication). Activities in the Workpackage Management consisted of initiating activities of the project, schedule of activities and work for the first period. The kick off meeting which took place in Maribor on June 11th and 12th 2018 was coorganised by the financial lead partner University of Maribor and the technical lead partner Swiss Center for Mountain Regions (SAB). Poliedra has organised again together with SAB the Project's Steering Committee meeting in Milan on November 27th-28th. The Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSG) are in the center of interest of WPT1 and the WP responsible Poliedra therefore organised the mapping of the RSG, has created guidelines and organised a Capacity Building Seminar for the work with the RSG for all partners. As part of the Capacity Building Seminar, Poliedra has also created and circulated a list of indicators of smartness for the self assessment of pilot areas and a dedicated form for the evaluation of core indicators of smartness. These steps helped the partners a lot to initiate successfully the RSGs in their test areas and to extend them further according to a 4 Helix approach. With reference to WPT2, the partnership can proudly announce to have already a first version of an operational digital exchange platform with basic functions at their disposal. This product has been designed and implemented by a consortium involving the University of Maribor, the Software Center Hagenberg and Adrets. So far all activities and deliverables foreseen have been completed or performed.
Coherence with EUSALP Action Plan
This strategic initiative relates to accessibility of services and connectivity (within the second pillar of EUSALP).
EUSALP Smart Villages Strategic initiative https://www.alpine-region.eu/projects/smart-villages
Alpine Space Programme project “Smart Villages” https://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/smartvillages/en/home