From “digital development of local areas” towards “development of digital local areas”
J P Pellegrin : 25/5/2013
”There is a growing gap between local development current culture, practices and achievement and digital realities.
Digital development is nowadays mostly seen as physical facilities and investment (broadband etc) but not much in term of value creation, methods of works, intangible services, mobility, etc. Its potential in terms of developers and stakeholders building capacities and promoting participative and active development and citizenship are largely misunderstood and underused.
Digital development is going to change almost completely the ways in which value (and value chains) are generated and local development is foreseen, designed and implemented. If these views are shared, there is a need to think and anticipate the links and impacts of these digital instruments on local development.”
“Digital development of local areas” is defined by equipment and access to technical facilities from broadband to very high speed internet and optical fibre network, but without any (or little) questioning about their utilisation, uses by local stakeholders or on their potential benefits with regard to costs.
Here we refer to “development of digital local areas”, with reference to aims, uses and usages, value added or generated by local users, operators, actors, stakeholders, decision-makers, companies, citizens, etc., as the outcome of redeployment of social, local, community or human networks, community of practices, in changing their methods of work, communication, decision and thought and in carrying out or generating new information, new contents and additional or new values. The fact that digital systems are “not centred” relates economic development not to specific geographical spaces or territories, but rather to relationships, links or connections between people or communities with similar or close experiences and empathy.
Within local firms and areas most economic value i.e. new scale and new chain of value – is going to be increasingly created: by digital tools (blogs, wiki, collaborative platforms, learning and social networks, clouds, web conference, smart grid, and so on…), that very few people and most of decision makers are aware of.
These links between infrastructures/ equipments and users/actors are little known and not much analysed, in order to better understand ”what’s new and moving”, in these practices; in these actor’s networks and organisations, on a specific and given area, how development problems are addressed and how these new content, information, knowledge, instruments designed and produced.
In this context of mobile internet usage and social and community networks, a “digital area” could be defined as a not-centred, “real or virtual place”, with changing and not adjoining scales or borders, carrying moving contents as circumstances and opportunities of local communities, business or eco systems dictate, and creating “places” for actions, collaboration and value creation, which are not related with functional, administrative and policy-defined geographical territories of current reference.
But in a complex, very mobile and unstable environment, more and more unpredictable and largely dependent on shrinking public funding, local development may not so much be based on formal strategic planning. It increasingly depends on micro and entrepreneurial self-financed approaches, on cooperative projects, in market gaps or niches and at interconnecting nodes or interactive links, without any centrality.
If such assumptions or feelings are shared; a suggestion would be, within LEDnet:
-discuss and validate the feasibility of these assumptions, make them clearer and develop a conceptual framework;
-identify experiences and thinking within EU MS and within possible EU programmes in this field;
– learn from these new approaches (such as the use of a content web such as wickers.inf) in order to apply, adjust and adapt to new local development practices induced by digital instruments;
– turn our experiences or skills in local development into new ideas, expertise, approaches and practices related to the way, in which local sustainable development will be addressed in the future, in a digital world;
-anticipate change, create a forward looking view of the future impacts of digital systems on grassroots development;
-identify new organisational models and new working methods of local stakeholders and practitioners, induced by digital development;
– anticipate and prepare new skills and capacities required, new training methods and learning processes, knowledge management, working processes, new thinking on innovation, etc which could improve local stakeholders capacities;
– Invite the Commission and other actors to think about potentials in this field and a new support programme, for example in the field of digital based capacity-building of communities (involved in community-based development).