Smart Rural Development: Challenges and Opportunities to Cope with Smart Divide in Rural America

Authors: Ruopu Li*, Southern Illinois University, Kang Chen, Southern Illinois University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Rural Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: Smart divide, ICT, Rural America, digital divide, pandemic
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 27
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 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, and examine potential strategies to bridge smart divide in rural America. We argue that the global pandemic may serve as a unique opportunity to invest smart planning and development in rural areas. The study is expected to benefit those scientists, planners, entrepreneurs, and policy makers with interests in smart rural development.

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