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Smart Rurality or Smart Divide: Challenges and Opportunities in Rural America

Authors: Ruopu Li*, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Kang Chen, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Topics: Regional Geography, Rural Geography, Development
Keywords: Smart divide, ICT, Rural America, broadband, digital divide
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Recent success in a myriad of information and communications technologies (ICT) applications in urban settings largely defines our understanding of sustainable development in the context of smart societies and communities. However, the footprints of such smart transformation barely imprint in the countryside, where rural communities meet with tremendous barriers, such as the absence of ICT infrastructure, geographic isolation from technological advances, and various social inequalities. The conventional wisdom of smart societies and communities built upon well-established broadband access and ICT applications in the urban hubs may be unfit in decentralized rural regions. We contend that a new form of digital divide in the context of recent ICT advancement, smart divide, is evolving into a new challenge to smart societies and communities. This study aims to characterize smart divide, an emerging type of social inequalities. To address the aim, we conduct literature review with a focus on technological aspects of smart divide in rural regions, and identify the potential gaps in smart infrastructure, and smart applications and services between urban and rural America. The paper culminates in a synthesis of potential strategies to bridge smart divide in rural America. The study is expected to benefit those scientists, planners, entrepreneurs, and policy makers with interests in smart rural development.

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