Smart city and rural development is not only about digitalisation. It requires efforts to make the best use of the technologies and people that are available. Mesopartner participated in the Smart Country Convention Conference in Berlin in November this year to promote their Hexagon approach on Smart Rural Area Development (see and also to connect with German researchers and practitioners in this field. The Conference in Berlin showed that the ability to make best use of digitalisation for local rural and urban economic development depends especially on two critical factors: 

  1. Do you have social networks that are working in an innovative way even without digital solutions? 

  2. We have to see digitalisation as one means to an end among others that can be used to create spillover effects for effective and sustainable development. But creativity, trying out new things in different ways, linking more dynamic stakeholders and leaders with each other is also key. This insight goes back to the complexity logic of Eric Beinhocker and the Santa-Fe-Institute, which differentiates between physical and social technologies. New physical or digital technologies and their effective use for development always require new ways of social organisation and networks.  

Other important points highlighted are the following: 

  • Smart cities and smart rural areas require a strong bottom-up and network approach with creative people that want to try new things in a different way 

  • Apart from social innovative networks, the best use of digitalisation in cities and rural areas also requires the set-up of a new organisational and technological eco-system with activities at different levels: the set-up of a good local technical IT infrastructure, the set-up of technical platforms offering certain services. These services might differ between rural areas and cities. For example, in rural areas more services for the common good could be provided (e.g. tele medicine/health, food delivery, mobility, local information). These tend to be lacking due to a too small critical mass for market solutions. 

  • Making use of the collection of smart data to increase human competences as well as societal interaction and production is an issue that is relevant in cities as well as in smaller towns. Mesopartner is currently digging deeper into this topic because it provides relevant insights into new trends in innovative LED approaches.