Smart Village Strategy Template
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Purpose of the tool
The smart village strategy template is a tool to help local communities to develop a local development strategy that is adapted to the ‘smart village’ concept. The template aims to help creating a vision and a development path for the village in the medium to long term.
Smart village strategies have to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). However, the type of measures taken, their timing, etc. will much depend on the local context and, are therefore, not pre-defined. The smart village strategy template is not developed to respond to a specific funding stream or programme
The strategy template consists of:
Standard local development strategy components, such as
- Description of assets and opportunities of the village as well as challenges and needs and a SWOT analysis;
- A clear intervention logic including a hierarchy of objectives to respond to SWOT, key actions to achieve objectives, expected outputs and results;
- Planning of financial and human resources;
- Specification of the capacity needed for implementation, management and monitoring procedures.
Components that reflect the basic principles of the ‘smart village’ concept:
- Stakeholder engagement: sections for describing the methods of engaging the local community at all stages from needs assessment, through strategy development, to planning actions;
- Links to existing local strategies: sections for describing how the strategy builds on existing strategies and work at the local level, to avoid the duplication of efforts.
- Links to programmes/ strategies at higher administrative level: sections for describing how the strategy contributes to the objectives of higher-level (micro-regional/ LAG, regional, national) strategies and programmes. This can ensure that the strategy is not developed in isolation, and could contribute to identifying relevant funding sources later on.
- Smart solutions: it is recommended that proposed solutions include a series of innovative elements (digital, social, technological or other innovations) that can help the village to overcome its challenges in a ‘non-traditional’ way).
How does it work?
- The strategy template consists of a predefined (logical) structure: chapters, sections and sub-sections to be completed by village leaders.
- Each section contains a series of indicative questions that can help developing the contents of the relevant section.
- It is highly recommended that you regularly consult your local stakeholders at different stages of the strategy development to ensure ownership and effective implementation later on. See further specific tools on how to achieve community ownership.
Who is it for?
- The strategy template is essentially for village leaders (e.g. mayors and their team, village advisors, village associations, municipal boards or local stakeholder groups) who would like to develop the basic framework (‘skeleton’) of a vision / strategy of their village.
- The local community stakeholders need to be engaged as much as possible at all stage of the process (e.g. assessing needs, discussing various versions of the document, plan objectives, actions that could be taken, etc.). Please refer to other tools for community engagement in strategy-development in the Roadmap toolkit.
Dos and Don’ts
- The template is just words on a paper – you need to fill it with life. Engage stakeholders when developing it, share/promote it within the local community, go back to it regularly and adapt/ update as necessary, review and monitor progress, collect feedback.
- Do not duplicate existing work – if you already have a good strategy, build on it! This template is not the only or main way to develop a smart village strategy. You can simply take it as a ‘menu’: look through the components of this strategy template (and indicative questions) and think if you want to integrate some sections into your existing strategy or take further actions in strategy planning.
- Think about new, innovative, ‘out of the box’ solutions. Without such considerations, the document might be a village strategy, but not a smart village strategy. Try to step out of your comfort zone, explore other solutions, especially through exchanging with other villages (the Smart Solutions database aims to provide you with inspiration and ideas). You will need to think in a more holistic way when developing actions in your strategy: how to integrate them, how one action could lead to another, how different themes complement each other, etc.
- Plan what is useful for your village – Don’t just think of what can be financed already. The smart village strategy template is not funding or programme-driven. Therefore there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules on how to develop its content, define the timeframe, etc.
- Plan overall resources in the strategy and then start more detailed action planning. It is important that you think of the financial and human resources that would be needed to complete your strategy (be S.M.A.R.T.). Your strategy needs to include a timeframe and an indicative budget. You will need to break down the specific actions/ activities specified in the strategy into more detailed action plans.
How was the tool already used?
- The smart village strategy template was developed in the context of the Smart Rural 21 project and first tested with the five pre-selected villages (Mukarov – Czechia, Dingle – Ireland, Kythera – Greece, Raudanmaa – Finland and Mouans-Sartoux – France). You can download their smart village strategies here.
- The template is currently being used with 16 additional villages across Europe selected in June 2020. Their strategy development process is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
- We are encouraging Come Along! Villages to use the template provided.