The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) recently published the briefing ‘Smart villages: concept, issues and prospects for EU rural areas’.
The document presents an overview of Smart Villages’s concept, its policy framework and the funding opportunities. It also provides information on smart village networks and projects and key stakeholder’s position.
Although there is no legal definition of a ‘smart village’ within EU legislation, the EU Action for Smart Villages defines as ‘those (local communities) that use digital technologies and innovations in their daily life, thus improving its quality, improving the standard of public services and ensuring better use of resources’. The concept has been reinforced by the work of the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) and in particular its thematic group on smart and competitive rural areas.
According to the briefing, the concept of “Smart village’ implies the involvement of local people in improving their economic, social or environmental conditions, cooperation with other communities, social innovation and the development of smart village strategies.
Digital technologies can be applied to many aspects of living and working in rural areas, and therefore the Smart Village concept also suggests the adoption of smart solutions in both the public and private sectors in a wide range of policy areas such as improving access to services, developing short food supply chains and developing renewable energy sources.
Looking to the future, the briefing identifies a number of barriers and challenges to the implementation of these initiatives:
• digital literacy levels in rural communities;
• existing levels of knowledge on the nature and utility of smart village approaches;
• the attitude of municipalities to such initiatives, including the political will to adopt them;
• the adequacy of existing levels of digital infrastructure in areas; and
• the challenges of developing a fully integrated approach to development across a range of policy areas at regional and local levels within Member States.
Smart Villages are gaining traction on the rural development agenda, coinciding with the ongoing reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Read here the full publication.