CORA targets the rural digital divide as a shared concern in Europe. In order to improve and empower rural areas to enhance the use of digital services towards improving the living and working qualities and growths, a digital ecosystem is required to be created. The one comprising of the main dimensions of digital transformation, namely digital infrastructure, digital services and digital skills and competences. CORA takes these factors in to account and emphasizes on empowering rural areas towards digital transformation. It aims to enable local authorities to to bridge digital divide, improve public services delivery and create an environment stimulating digital innovation in rural areas.
CORA concept comprises of three main steps namely identifying the common local chal-lenges, testing solutions to overcome the challenges and streamlining and knowledge trans-fer. The aim is to first identify the exiting challenges in the local context and deliver respon-sive solutions to overcome these challenges accordingly. The abstract conceptual solutions and approaches shall be tested and the impacts to be analysed. Such an experiemental ap-proach, provides new views in terms of barriers towards digital transformation in rural areas.
To do so, the process has started with developing a survey guide and carrying our regional surveys to identify local digital baselines and demonstration of common transnational challenges among local and regional participating partners. Built on the findings, the CORA Model has been developed comprising on guiding measures, good exmples as well as selective training materials for the main target groups namely local communities, authorities and enterprises in three main dimensions:
- Digital Infrastructure
- Digital Services
- Digital Skills
Dimension 1: Digital Infrastructure
The infrastructure dimension revolves around the development of superfast broadband infra-structure and its quality. Access to fast broadband-enabled services is a necessary condition for regional competitiveness especially in rural areas. To guarantee a future proof and com-plete coverage of superfast broadband services, several factors play fundamental role. These include; fare competition, demand stimulation and uptake level, the availability of state aid and financial instruments, a decent regulatory framework, geographic and demographic characteristics, availability of ducts and upgradable networks as well as willingness to pay and affordability. Results from CORA actities will form a set of strategic recommendations on best applied technologies and techniques for an efficient NGA extension in remote areas.
Dimension 2: Digital Services
Access to adequate broadband services has crucial importance to the economic and social development. The digital public services dimension emphasizes on the digitisation of public services, focusing on eGovernment and the social infrastructures. Modernisation and digiti-sation of public services can lead to efficiency gains for the public administration, citizens and businesses alike as well as to the delivery of better services for the citizen. The Use of Internet services accounts for the variety of activities performed by citizens already online. Such activities range from consumption of online content (videos, music, games, etc.) to modern communication activities, online shopping and banking as well as a wide range of government services. CORA partners test different offers of e-services and analyzes their impact on the living quality and attractiveness of rural areas.
Dimension 3: Digital Skills
Limited access and use of digital technologies in rural areas are accompanied with a lack of digital skills of different social groups (e.g. elderly people) and in businesses. This includes basic digital skills and competences, which enable individuals to interact online and consume digital goods and services as well as advanced skills, which empower the workforce to take advantage of technology for enhanced productivity and economic growth. Digital literacy and the awareness of the possibilities digitalisation offers is a key driver for new business mod-els, applications and services to develop and contributes to the social cohesion and eco-nomic prosperity in Europe. To ensure that everyone can engage in and benefit from the digi-tal economy and adapt rapidly to new and unexpected occupations and skill needs, educa-tion and training systems should place a stronger emphasis on promoting ICT generic skills, ICT specialist skills, and ICT-complementary skills, including foundational skills, digital liter-acy, higher-order critical thinking skills as well as social and emotional skills. Greater efforts are also needed to raise the skills of those adults with weak literacy, numeracy and digital skills to enable them to fully participate in the digital economy and society. As a part of CORA model, the partners test face to face and online training methods with the aim of improv-ing the level of local digital skills and competences.