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What is the Smart Village Initiative?

The Pilot Project on Smart Eco-Social Villages, initiated by the European Parliament, has been carried out by a consortium consisting of Ecorys, Origin for Sustainability and R.E.D. under the responsibility of the European Commission (Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development).

The purpose of the project is to observe Smart Village activity and to define the concept of Smart Village.

The goals of the project were to map the rural challenges in Europe. There are three specific objectives and they include:

  1. To map the current challenges and potential to boost development in EU rural areas

  2. To develop a definition of Smart Villages

  3. To identify practical solutions to overcome challenges and to improve the situation in villages

Over time, many rural areas have experienced a decline in the range of services available. Changing demographic structures, public sector cutbacks and the impact of climate change can stimulate local communities to step in and fill the gap. Discovering and implementing new solutions to address local challenges is therefore one of the key characteristics of Smart Villages.

Smart Villages are rural communities that build on their strengths and assets, while also developing new opportunities. Underpinning this approach is enhancing both traditional and new networks and services through digital, telecommunication technologies, innovations and better use of knowledge. The concept is not prescriptive and acknowledges there are no one size fits all solutions. It is also about much more than digitisation.

The concept takes a bigger picture focus and enables a more holistic view of how rural development is taking shape. Rural policies and programmes provide for building blocks to support rural development.

The Smart Villages concept aims to enable local actors to look beyond component parts, assess, plan and take action around how existing assets and future opportunities can come together and join the dots for more balanced, forward looking rural development.

The Smart Villages concept is also closely aligned to Ireland’s new ‘Smart Community’ initiative, launched in January 2019. This innovative initiative is a new approach that aims to bring exposure to digital content and technology in rural communities, and also to support rural dwellers in discovering the value of using digital in their daily lives.

Killorglin was the only Irish town to be selected as a case study along with 14 other towns and villages across Europe.

Our case study was based on our engagement with the community and the development of our strategy (Socio-Economic Plan) with Noel Spillane (South Kerry Development Partnership CLG) and Siobhan Griffin (Kerry County Council) presenting.

The outputs from the project will be published by the European Commission and will inform future EU Rural Development Policy.

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