The impact of the digital transition on the territory

Our biggest problem is not one of instruments or technology, it is one of commitment and solidarity with the economy of the common good of people and territories

We know that, in a small economy like ours, the opportunity cost of investment can be higher, but, in this case, investments in the territory's digital and technological infrastructure can substantially reduce this opportunity cost.

Let us see, very briefly, how the digital transition impacts the structuring of the territory and its modes of organization and territorial collective intelligence:

- A digitalization of public services, from the in situ citizen store to the ex situ citizen store operated through our smartphone applications; in the same sense, we will see important changes in the relationship between the back office and the municipal front office,

- A smartification of cities and urban networks, in multiple equipment and infrastructures, in different degrees and levels of the intelligent and creative city,
- A polarization of the digital transition, through the establishment of innovation hubs and technological hubs, which include start-up incubators and business accelerators,

- A collaborative platformization of decentralized and distributed networks, many socioeconomic activities will build a new life of relationships with their peers, suppliers, customers and users in a way of co-creation and co-management,

- A clustering of an area of ​​industrial activity, for example, which arises from the mobilizing agendas and business consortia of the PRR, but also from new business merger and concentration operations,

- A territorialization of a digital ecosystem, as a structuring strategic project, for example, within the scope of the development plan of a CIM or urban network,

- A programming of territorial-based geosystems through geographic information systems, for example, the planning of the landscape system and the management of the landscape mosaic, the energy mix, the circular economy network, the mapping of local and regional rows and chains,

- A transformation of the architecture of urban public space and city-country relations, for example, in terms of intelligent urban mobility system, modular construction and infrastructure management, green corridors and urban agroecological park,

- A management of territorial planning and the global landscape in the critical agroforestry subsystem, for example, in forest intervention areas, in integrated landscape management areas, in village condominiums, in preventive forestry, such as the application of georeferencing and geographic information systems (GIS),

- A implementation of regional education, training and extension networks (school groups), technical-professional education and higher education that consider heritage and landscape, sciences and technologies, arts and culture, as the essential assets of a reformist policy for schools in general and universities in particular .

Once here, we will only have a balanced and harmonious occupation of the territory if we have genuine interpreters for territorial collective intelligence, that is, network actors capable of managing the various collaborative platforms and their most differentiated technological and digital devices.

Here are some of those key incumbents that urgently need to see the light of day:

- At parish unions and community outpatient service networks with the most vulnerable population groups; digital technology can promote this mobility and proximity,

- At forest intervention zones (ZIF), integrated landscape management areas (AIGP), village condominiums (CA), need to be on the ground to effectively carry out fire risk management, planning and forest management,

- At protected landscape areas, natural parks, geoparks, thermal areas, need to be on the ground through producer clubs and heritage defense associations to carry out the ordering and effective management of natural heritage and its orderly tourist visitation,

- The research centers, associated and collaborative laboratories, need to be on the ground on collaborative platforms with the support of young research interns and postgraduate students in research and development projects that have support points in business projects,

- At industrial zones, business parks and business centers, need to be on the ground to carry out the collective management of common goods and services, in particular, new sustainability projects in terms of waste management and circular economy,

- At business associations, professional schools, polytechnic institutes and universities, need to establish collaborative cooperation and business extension platforms to support the regrouping and recapitalization of SMEs and agricultural holdings,

- The Cbusiness consortiums formed within the scope of the PRR’s mobilizing agendas, made up of several public and private entities, are a unique opportunity for the effective implementation of the programs contained in the PRR, especially those of an industrial nature,

- The European territorial cooperation groupings (EGTC), euro-cities and euro-regions, need to be on the ground, form collaborative platforms and effectively carry out the cross-border cooperation that is included in their programs,

- At networks of towns and cities, intermunicipal communities (CIM) and city-regions, need to be on the ground and practice bolder formulas of intermunicipal federalism, using, for this purpose, the digital platforms of smart and creative cities and regions.

Final grade

As can easily be seen, without these main incumbents and without the talent needed to manage territorial collective intelligence, it becomes very difficult to effectively implement infrastructures, equipment, platforms, smart communities, network actors and teams which are essential to the digital transition.

In other words, if we do not build our networks and platforms with zeal and competence made in, according to our needs, resources and objectives, we will remain in the hands of the large digital business operated by intermediaries of technological giants who deal with us as mere users and end consumers of their products and services and always at the mercy of the latest fashions.

Be warned, our biggest problem is not one of instruments or technology, it is one of commitment and solidarity with the economy of the common good of people and territories.


Author António Covas is a Retired Full Professor at the University of Algarve




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