Smart Villages

What is a Smart Village

“Smart Villages are communities in rural areas that use innovative solutions to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities. They rely on a participatory approach to develop and implement their strategy to improve their economic, social and/ or environmental conditions, in particular by mobilizing solutions offered by digital technologies”. (ENRD, 2017)

The term ‘Smart Villages’ refers to rural communities that build on and enhance existing strengths and assets through creative solutions, embracing innovation to create attractive and sustainable places in which to live and work. A Smart Village approach will see individuals and community groups come together to overcome local challenges by exploring new ways of doing things and implementing practical and tangible solutions. Both the embracing of new technologies and the exploration of low-tech social engagement and innovation are equally paramount to the creation of a Smart Village.

The following key features are identified as integral to the Smart Village concept:

  • The participation of rural communities in informing and delivering new solutions.
  • Strengthening the economic, social and environmental resilience of rural communities.
  • The implementation of new technologies and digital services to address the needs of rural communities.

Overall, the Smart Villages concept aims to improve the capacity of local communities to utilise new technologies and social solutions to empower them in addressing challenges and shaping their future. The design and delivery of Smart Village measures in Europe is supported under LEADER, the EU’s initiative to support rural development projects across the member states.

Smart Villages in Europe

In 2017 the European Commission (EC) launched the ‘EU Action for Smart Villages’ a document that set out a working understanding of the ‘Smart Villages’ concept and established a number of actions to help promote Smart Village practices in Europe. A key action was the establishment of a working group on Smart Villages, bringing together experts and stakeholders from academia, rural government, practitioners and local authorities across Europe to identify best practices and key lessons for the promotion and development of the smart village concept. Operating under the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) between 2017-2020 this working group has supported the EU Action for Smart Villages by helping develop concepts of how the European Commission can support attractive, sustainable and resilient rural areas.

Smart Villages in Ireland

Participating communities in the North-Kerry/West-Limerick region will join a number of other towns and villages across Ireland that have taken the first steps on their journey to a smarter and sustainable future. Examples of emerging Smart Villages in Ireland are included below, with links to learn more about the measures and interventions developed by these communities.

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