Digital Participation

The fundamental goal of Smart Villages is to enable greater digital participation and social inclusion for rural communities.

This has many aspects, ranging from simple user skills, through facilitating a local digital community for residents to participate in and providing rural small businesses with the tools needed to be part of the new digital economy.

Best Practices

As well as being a signatory of Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter, our goal is to bring a range of innovations and best practices from around the world to Scotland’s rural communities.

For example the EU Smart Village research network has undertaken projects such as Workshops to Combat Digital Exclusion in Rural Areas.

A local action group organised a series of 3-day workshops in nine municipalities for residents with limited computer skills who are over 50 years old. The workshops were conducted by a professional trainer. After passing a competency test and committing to 100% attendance at the workshops the participants received tablets and keyboards to continue practicing their skills.

Social Inclusion and Bridging the Generational Divide

Contrary to the fears that technology isolates people, our goal with Smart Villages is for it to play a central role in enabling better offline social participation too.

This can be achieved through each site acting as a digital community that facilitates a first virtual contact point that leads to more physical engagement. Often it’s easier to meet new people online and these connections can evolve into friendships developed face to face.

Through structured activities this can also play a part in ‘bridging the generational divide’ too – For example digital skills training for the elderly could be fulfilled by local youth and schoolchildren, thus enhancing both digital and social participation simultaneously.

Technology Innovations

We will also catalogue and share the many pioneering technology innovations that offer unique and novel ways to better connect people through technology.