AURORAL Innovation Gap Workshop – Digital solutions for rural areas – addressing cohesion, interoperability, and technical challenges

  • SMEs contributed to the event by providing use cases and best practices to address the gaps in several smart domains, namely Smart Farming, Smart Health, Smart Governance and Smart Energy

  • Among the main gaps identified: the lack of cross-sectorial big data exchange and in the use of IoT and AI in multiple smart domains. Business opportunities for companies operating in these areas were also part of the discussions

  • In the AURORAL project’s framework, open calls will be launched to address the gaps and connect more companies and municipalities to the middleware, thus enabling collaboration in the delivery of digital services through EU rural areas

The event opened with a delivery on findings, innovation and knowledge gaps that were identified while deploying digital services in rural contexts.

The Reference Architecture being currently developed in AURORAL’s interoperable middleware connects vertical services in different rural domains with horizontal ones, including online digital marketplaces, thus allowing seamless transparent cooperation between stakeholders. The gaps’ analysis performed in this context has shown business opportunities in several smart domains, as companies operating in such market domains can integrate their services to the middleware and reach remote and rural areas.

Specifically, within the project’s frame, open calls will be launched later this year. Allowing the connection of external companies’ services to the middleware.

To understand how the middleware works and how it integrates services, you can download this presentation.

Below a recap of the services lacking in the smart communities domains in need of new business opportunities:

Smart Farming

  • Gap: Lack of appropriate supportive policies and precise climate prediction in agricultural production, as well as in the use of big data to improve agricultural processes and cross-domain re-use of data.
  • Opportunity: Need of an improved demonstration circa the implementation of IoT and AI for precision farming, including the use of drones. A strategy that should be actively fostered and extended due to its relevant importance and practical gains.

Smart Governance

  • Gap: Lack of services offering two-way communication between inhabitants and the municipality, particularly in rural areas.
  • Opportunity: Integration with other domains to create new Smart Governance services together with the targeted municipality.

Smart Energy

  • Gap: The use of big data in this domain is underdeveloped and environmental sustainability can be “outperformed” by concerns related to cybersecurity.
  • Opportunity: The use of AI and IoT while delivering smart energy services should be integrated to other domains, thus saving energy and fully exploiting its potential.

Smart Tourism

  • Gap: Cognitive and affective factors are important for decision-making. More use cases on this relation are needed.
  • Opportunity: More use of IoT devices and more services applying two-way communications between users and attractions.

Smart Mobility and Logistics

  • Gap: Lack of pilot studies on how municipalities could exploit the data from this domain for future-planning.
  • Opportunity: Better demonstrate the potential of cross-domains synergies in exploiting data coming from energy streams.

Smart Health

  • Gaps: The use of IoT devices and of data coming from smart health domain to others, especially when it concerns the elderly population, is not performing at its full potential.
  • Opportunity: Applications employing IoT devices for monitoring health conditions and other e-Health services, and use cases on the integration of smart health data to other domains.

Smart Industry

  • Gaps: Wastage in the industrial data’s potential of smart communities’ domains.
  • Opportunity: Showcase how industrial data can benefit the whole community (citizens and municipalities).

In general terms, findings can be summed up by stating that a general lack of IoT and AI devices is challenging the digital transformation of rural areas. Therefore, several business opportunities for companies operating with such applications are open, as marketplaces call for new business models to be further exploited.

Cybersecurity is also broadly underdeveloped, particularly in Smart Health and Smart Governance. There´s a will in making open data more secure which is calling for more use cases and cybersecurity applications.

The second part of the event brought together external companies presenting their services and applications in the areas where most gaps were identified and showing how they could have potentially integrated their services to the AURORAL middleware and reached rural areas.

You can download the companies´ presentations by clicking on their names below:

Future Intelligence Ltd 

Orchestra city, Martel Innovate

Infosaude CEFAR – Centre for Health Evaluation & Research

Smart Energy DIH

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance Focus Group Smart Communities is the community where players from the supply- (technology providers) and demand- (local administration) side work together to overcome the highlighted obstacles. Fostering collaboration and exchanging know-how in the Smart Communities domain.

This workshop was a joint effort from the DIGITAL SME Focus Group Smart Communities and AURORAL partner SINTEF. The main results of the first Workshop in Alentejo. The main points can be found on the European Digital SMEs Alliance´s dedicated webpage, accessible through this link.

If you wish to collect more information, feel free to contact

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