The third Thematic Group (TG) meeting focused on digital innovation and discussed the development and provision of digital services in rural areas and communities.
Discussions demonstrated how many exciting initiatives are converging not just to overcome the rural digital divide, but to ensure a genuine ‘digital transformation’ of rural areas. This implies going beyond digital innovations in individual services to intervene across the entire digital ‘ecosystem’.
Examples illustrated that villages and rural communities do not have to wait until the perfect broadband infrastructure is in place. There are EU policies and tools to help them improve connectivity, skills and the application of digital technologies simultaneously.
Additionally, the event explored some of the practical steps for progressing digital innovation in rural areas, including how to find the right digital solutions, how to set up effective rural digital hubs and how to identify and develop skillsets. These were illustrated by the new pilot initiative 'Smart Eco-social Villages'.