In 2013, the Countryside Living Index performed a survey on the people living in the rural and urban areas of the UK. It revealed that residents in the countryside are more optimistic about the future. They are happier about their quality of life than residents in cities. Further, it was recorded that the urbanites are more worried about the issues such as the cost of living and crime in cities.
Similarly, the latest study in 2019 found out that 57% urban dwellers in Dhaka, Bangladesh would prefer living in villages. But, provided that they get employment opportunities and basic public facilities like good healthcare and education. This is as per a study revealed by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). A total of 12,000 people from 3,100 households were picked randomly as participants. The study revealed that traffic congestion, air pollution, unsafe drinking water and waterlogging were some of the biggest issues faced by the people and over 44% of them suffered from health-related problems.
Many experts across the globe have accepted this fact. Creating better livelihood in villages can be one of the sustainable solutions to issues in the urban space. Perhaps, there is an urgent need to create a balance between the urban and the rural landscape.
Here are some inspiring smart village projects that are on the road to bring ‘smart city solution’ to villages. Reading these projects might make you think twice about ‘your life in smart cities.’
A Complete Village In Innisfil
80 km north of Toronto, Canada lies a rural town called Innisfil. The town is enclosed by lush green forests, lakes and rich wildlife.
Recently, the Council of the town approved a “complete community” plan proposed by Architecture firm Partisans. Named as The Orbit, the new development will be home to advanced technologies. With that, the project will have a special focus on the conservation of the town’s rich natural landscape. The community needs to reimagine its approach to development. If not, it is likely that it loses its agricultural land like other rural communities in the Greater Toronto region. This is according to a report from Innisfil Council.
As per the firm, the project will be a “clean slate to reimagine how a community of tomorrow is built today”. The planned project is expected to stretch over an area of 40 million square feet. At its centre, a regional transit hub called GO station will be built. The rail network will join the existing public transit in Greater Toronto and Hamilton. The top of the station will be used to install drone ports for last-mile delivery.
The GO station design will be completed by March 2020 with its construction scheduled be accomplished in the next few years. In addition, it will support a high-speed fibre optic network that will provide connectivity throughout the village – including sidewalks, streets and buildings. Besides, it will also give a boost to startups and innovation.
The smart village will have streets in circular patterns with the GO station at the centre. Partisans explain the shape as “squircles” – a combination of circles and squares. Further, looking at the green side of this project, it will provide shelter to over 150,000 people. As the region around Toronto is undergoing a housing crisis, the Orbit will be a solution to this issue. It will fulfil the desire of the people to live in a peaceful countryside setting with access to major economic opportunities.
All the more, the smart village will have a landscape that ensures that families from all socio-economic backgrounds can live here. It will have a variety of homes for people from all walks of life. Shared equity programmes will open doors to ownership opportunities for those who would otherwise not afford it.
A mix of transportation modes including driverless vehicles, pedestrian walkways, cycling paths will serve sustainable transit model. An elementary school, a farmer’s market, a library, sports, recreational centres and cultural buildings will further enhance the standard of living.
Scotland Pilot For Smart Villages
Businesses in rural Scotland are being provisioned with a £100,000 boost to help create “digital communities.” This is part of a pilot scheme which will help them grow and enhance their connection with customers.
The funding will help the Smart Villages Scotland pilot in conducting networking events and online mentoring. Additionally, it will attract young entrepreneurs and older business owners to exchange skills through collaboration.
The term ‘village’ used by the initiative extends to include settlements that range in size from a small hamlet to a small town. All of these will transform into digital communities that improve enterprise support and connectivity for rural companies. The collaborative project has received funding from Scottish Enterprise, Kinross Leader Programme and Perth, the Rural Perth and Kinross Council. The first phase of the project is backed by the Scottish Government with £60,000 of funding.
The next year in Scotland will witness connecting the existing and potential Smart Villages. The aim is to spread the advancement across the entire Scotland region. After the transformation, every smart village will be benefited from connecting into this dynamic network in different forms. They will be able to receive regular updates from all other connecting villages. As a result, this will help them connect and share best practices.
Moreover, they will have a media platform which will enable communities to have their voice heard at the national level. This will be an opportunity to connect with other smart communities and institutions from across the globe.
The Smart Village model is a project that will encourage the use of digital applications contributing to an inclusive and intelligent rural economy.
Climate-active Smart Village Initiative In Rwanda
Another Smart Village initiative is gaining momentum on the other side of the globe. Recently, Rwanda Green Fund acknowledged an agreement with the Global Alliance for Smart Cities and Smart Villages in Africa (GASCA). This comes after the vision to create “smart green villages” that sustain a high quality of life and stand against climate change. 20 Regions of Climate Action (R20) a consortium of private organisations and international non-profits will support the initiative. They will help develop and secure financing for green infrastructure projects.
According to environmental experts, a climate-active village is a key to address climate change in the long run. It is an opportunity to promote food security and adaptation and build resilience to climatic stresses. The agreement will make sure that environmental experts work on two feasible scenarios. One will be renovating and upgrading an existing village. And the other will be creating a new smart village by uniting various settlements around a pioneering smart infrastructure.
Hubert Ruzibiza, CEO of FONERWA stated that the project will commence by identifying areas where a pilot smart green village can be developed. The large scale expansion of the project across the country will begin after that. As per officials, the smart villages will have eco-friendly amenities and intelligent ICT infrastructure that ensures connectivity. Low carbon emission, energy efficiency, affordable housing will be the essential features of each smart village. Alongside, the project will focus on sustainable raw materials that help to manufacture locally.
Currently, a single pilot green village is set up in a rural region with existing/potential activities in the agricultural field. The pilot will test the impact of green energy use, intelligent mobility solution and connectivity. We hope that the beautiful countryside gets the touch of smart cities without any harm to their natural ecosystem. Perhaps, with this, urbanites would wish to settle in a village.