Digital innovation in rural area. A vision for smart village in Dropull
Author: Joan Ikonomi
Affiliation: Polis University
The rural areas in Albania are undergoing rapid demographic, social and economic changes concerning emigration, depopulation, population ageing, little use of agriculture, livestock, tourism potential, and marginalization due to market and service centralization and poor infrastructure. In the present condition of isolation and rural decay, the creation of an easy two-way connection between territory and the people can open up new opportunities to revitalize rural areas. The crucial role of these networks is to collect community potentials, create partnerships and offer benefits to the rural community. In this sense, the use of innovative digital technologies can become an important instrument to develop virtual networking through which a smart multimedia interactive platform can provide information, knowledge sharing and interconnection among different sectors. EU has already launched and promoted these concepts since 2017, through Smart Village initiative (European Commission, 2017), paying particular attention to the use of innovative digital technologies that create a new form of network cooperation beyond the village boundaries, involving the surrounding countryside and towns. Smart village means effectively and efficiently services delivered to the residents and businesses to improve their economic, social and environmental conditions, in particular finding out solutions offered by digital technologies. Digital innovation based on computing, communication and information technologies can act as an accelerator exploiting the hidden potential in the area. In the case of the proposed smart villages in the Municipality of Dropull, the first step to developing virtual networks through digital tools that support smart development is to provide digital infrastructure, broadband internet and to build a rural digital
hub. This multi-service hub structure will be located in Jorgucat village, the municipality center, and it will manage digital services that respond to local needs offering support and training for the community. The aim is to create a network between the local community and other actors in different fields by facilitating the delivery of public services and offering new opportunities. Based on community needs, the objective of this study is to create a fast network of information and exchange between the territory and its governance, which enables information sharing and resource access for the people and tourists. In order to create this network, different
e-tools (apps.) can be used to support and facilitate the process, focusing on the following vulnerable sectors of this Municipality: 1. Access to e-health, education, training and other essential services 2. Online market and promotion of local products 3. Online booking service, promoting tourism, heritage and cultural activities 4. Mobility 5. Governance. These tools are considered as a catalyst for the proposed network, which serves to reactivate human, environmental and financial resources in these villages and improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of rural areas. Successful networking models and e-tools already used in EU “smart villages” will be introduced to understand the structure of the information system and management. This will constitute the basis for the development of specific networking models inherent to the particularities of the Dropull villages, which can be supported by e-tools.
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