A Digital Village Improvement District strategy for revitalizing local economic growth in Scotland

A ‘Digital Village Improvement District’ (DVIP) is the supporting economic development program we offer for implementing Digital Villages.

This builds upon and expands the scope of the concept of a ‘Digital Improvement District‘.

As Hollyrood Magazine reports Cupar is the first town to adopt this program, a pilot that could change towns across Scotland. In simple terms it marries digital infrastructure like local Wifi with an online portal ‘CuparNow‘.

Digital Villages repeat this portal approach, further enhancing the scope with powerful features like a ‘Virtual Farmers Market‘, and built as a Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a System), a site can be easily provisioned for each of Scotland’s 2,000+ small towns.

Bottom up, inclusive growth

Importantly implementation of a Digital Village comes as part of a holistic economic development program, one driven from a bottom up approach to achieve inclusive growth.

This is critical to the future prosperity of Scotland. As this BBC report highlights our small towns and rural communities are experiencing continual decline, with traditional local economy regeneration efforts failing to reverse the trend.

There are a multitude of examples, such as Lanark, a town symptomatic of these broader economic difficulties, with the high street a showcase of deprivation, such as the derelict Royal Oak hotel and similarly run down old Regal cinema across the road.

This is a chronically sad situation, when you consider the heritage assets the town is blessed with, notably its’ William Wallace history.

Given the worldwide awareness of this story capitalizing on this asset would provide the backbone for an online marketing campaign that could draw thousands of new visitors to the town and greatly boost the local economy.

However as the Carluke Gazette reported, a byproduct of Scotland’s increasingly centralized approach to tourism marketing has resulted in a loss of localized resources for this purpose.

DVIP Action Plans

Therefore a DVIP approach sets out to address these types of gaps, developing locally organized digital marketing campaigns for collating and promoting this type of rich content. We define and execute an action plan that:

  • Forms and supports a local digital marketing team. Local subject matter experts are recruited and trained to publish this type of community knowledge.
  • Local vendors and artisans are recruited into a Virtual Farmers Market e-commerce services strategy, to enjoy boosted sales through this marketing.
  • Capacity building initiatives, such as building out local co-working centres, are organized to support this growth.

The strategy will research and align these efforts to other relevant economic and local technology programs. For example South Lanarkshire’s overall regional strategy is documented here, and their plans for a Digital Council defined in detail here.

The Council’s overall plan identifies key goals such as ‘Support the local economy by providing the right conditions for growth, improving skills and employability’.

Our project will link this digital strategy to the region’s overall economic goals, those addressed by Planning and Economic Development. This identifies that a major funding stream for this type of local innovation is the ‘Leader‘ program, with plans for Lanarkshire documented here.

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