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DigiBy project can help to draw more people to Sweden's countryside , Source: digiby.se

Project eyes expansion of digital services in Sweden’s rural North

Project eyes expansion of digital services in Sweden’s rural North

DigiBy will do pilot tests of new digital service solutions and gather feedback from Norrbotten residents

Norrbotten County is part of Norrland – the northernmost, largest and most sparsely populated of Sweden’s three traditional “lands” or regions. Long distances between the predominantly rural settlements make it hard for inhabitants to get access to commercial and public services. The number of physical service points is low and most of them do not offer digital services. 

This sounds discouraging, but where some people see obstacles, others see opportunities. DigiBy, a project spearheaded by Luleå University of Technology, exemplifies this maxim – it will conduct pilot tests of new digital service solutions to be implemented in Norrbotten villages.

The project will develop new methods for using existing technology in establishing service points and also determine if services need to be adapted to the village conditions. The pilot tests will be carried out in collaboration with all Norrbotten’s municipalities, the County Administrative Board and local communities. 

The DigiBy project is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will run until December 2022. The project is now gathering feedback from people who live and work in Norrbotten’s rural areas regarding their experience and notion of digital services. Villagers are invited to take part in a survey and share their ideas about improving the existing services and identifying new digital community service areas based on the needs of the local population. 

DigiBy actors are confident that Norrbotten's rural areas are well placed to grow on a par with more densely populated areas through better coordination and digitalization of community services. This factor, added to good Internet connectivity and a functional transport system, will surely encourage more people to settle in the countryside. 

"Smart Villages"

DigiBy partners another project in Veberöd, in the southernmost Skåne County, dubbed "Smart Villages". Under the collaborative project, Veberöd has become a test village for the development of smart and sustainable solutions that can benefit Swedish society as a whole. To this end, Veberöd has already implemented a number of pilots such as using drones to supply villagers with medicine, creating smart trees and installing water troughs for cows.

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