10 suggestions for the digital futures of villages and small towns

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How can we make use of technological possibilities, so that life in smaller cities and in rural areas becomes easier, better and smarter?

Based on a Match Co-create course on “Smart villages and rural areas”, we have collected 10 suggestions for the digital future of villages prepared by the participating parties: Gemeinscaft, Orbicon, A2, Norrøn Arkitekter, Haxi, ITU, Alexandra Institute, Danish Urban Laboratory, DGI, Mols in Development, Kalundborg Municipality, Municipality of Hedensted, Bornholm County Municipality and SEAS-NVE.

1. Use and strengthen the connection between local producers and distributors of (food) products. Local shops only offer local products and are complemented by occasional markets with special, additional products as well as a digital registration and coordination between the stalls.

2. Optimize energy, water and heat supply by using digital technologies for the smart management of, for instance. public road lighting, but also in private homes, so that both public utilities and the citizens save money.

3. Optimize municipal operations by using digital technologies in relation to, for instance, roads and parks, elderly care and renovation. Sensors, for example,  can inform social and health workers about a patient’s needs and the trash bin itself can tell you when it needs to be emptied.

4. Install light fixtures at schools, institutions, sports halls, foot paths and other places where people need to feel save. In addition to providing lighting, the light installations have the advantage that they can serve as artistic urban elements that give character and identity to a place.

5. Upgrade empty buildings by adding new functions – for example, (temporary) co-working communities / facilities. A New Yorker (hay?)loft with excellent digital infrastructures and where multiple functions are coordinated.

6. Develop a digital platform / app with events and activities that can be used by both, tourists and local citizens, especially, in order to organize, request and invite others to local events.

7. Create a sharing / exchange platform where citizens offer/provide and demand different services (e.g. child care, dog walking or care activities) and / or share physical things such as gardening tools or equipment for babies etc.

8. Use a digital tool to create (better) two-way communication between municipalities and citizens – e.g. in relation to area redevelopments – this way citizens can get an insight into and become involved (in good time) in local development projects.

9. Produce a shared transport system targeted at “the country life”, where distances are long and where public transport is not optimal / possible (especially at busy times of the week / day).

10. Build a network of cooperation and exchange experiences between rural municipalities in relation to developing and implementing smart solutions. For example, with regard to specialisation, impact on framework conditions and procurement.