Smart Solutions

Accessible Village

Adapted village infrastructure, ICT tools and branding to become an ‘accessible village’ for people with disabilities as an engine for cultural, social and economic growth.

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    Where to find out more?

    Region or village : Monteverde, Italy

    Country : Italy 

    Population :

    Contact person : 

    E-mail : 

    Last updated : 13/11/20


    What’s the solution?

    This solution involves physically and digitally adapting a rural village to make it more accessible and welcoming to an increased diversity of visitors, with particular reference to people with different types of physical disabilities (hard of hearing people, blind people, people with motor disabilities), in order to attract more tourists and develop a diversity and welcoming culture at local level.

    Physical infrastructure modifications can include:

    • Removal of architectural barriers from the main streets of the village;
    • Tactile pathways to give the possibility to blind people to move around the village and on outdoor trails autonomously.
    • Installation of sensors and an ICT system based on radio-frequency identification and wi-fi hotposts to send touristic and other information to blind and hard of hearing people on their smartphones.
    • Lodging space created or adapted for visitors with physical disabilities and their families.

    The actions create a culture of inclusion and tolerance, whilst creating new job opportunities for local youth, focusing on a specific type of tourism and promoting better quality of public spaces and ICT services for all the residents.

    The physical modifications can be supported with promotional activities and branding as ‘an accessible village’ to encourage tourism based on the new opportunities provided to people with disabilities and their families in a rural setting.

    What makes it smart?

    The solution is smart because it takes a socially focused approach to the generation of new economic opportunities in a rural setting, taking advantage where relevant of modern technologies. It aims both to meet the social needs of a diverse range of people and promote the economic and social growth of the village, all while creating new services which are also useful for the residents.

    The solution demonstrates the following forms of innovation:

    • Digital innovation – it uses ICT for testing innovative use of public spaces and promotion of local attractions for people with disabilities, for example through sensors which send location-specific information to visitors’ smartphones

    • Social innovation – it both promotes and builds upon a strong concept of social inclusivity, both to members of the village community and to any external visitor.

    • Business innovation – the solution aims to take advantage of the economic opportunities generated by a new form of tourism aimed at showcasing the ability to welcome people with a diversity of physical needs.

    How is the solution implemented?

    • The first step is to raise awareness amongst the local community of the possibility to use a positive model of social inclusion to drive local development. It is important to make residents understand how acting on accessible public spaces can be a leverage for tourism and economic growth.
    • The village should map all its historical, architectural and environmental attractions in collaboration with local stakeholders, as well as identifying barriers to accessibility – supported where possible by people with disabilities themselves.
    • Modifications should be planned through a process of integrated and participatory planning with public assemblies to share all the details of the project and to include the feedback of different categories of residents, as well as the suggestions formulated by the regional and national NGOs active in the field of inclusion of people with disabilities.
    • Detailed and specific tender procedures will usually be needed to procure the planned infrastructure modification services. The management of construction work and the delivery of services and infrastructure can then be controlled directly by the Municipality, in collaboration with the contracting companies.
    • Physical instructure improvements should then be supported by targeted and branded promotional activities to reach out to potential visitors and tourists who would benefit from the new services and adapted physical environment.

    In what local context has it been applied?

    Monteverde is a village located in Southern Italy at the border between Campania, Apulia and Basilicata regions. Monteverde is characterised by the typical problems of inner areas in Italy: decreasing birth rate, lack of services and employment opportunities, population decrease in particular by local youth fleeing the village to live in bigger towns or in Northern Italy.

    Cultural and economic exchange with the rest of the region declined over the years, also due to the distance with the provincial capital (Avellino, located 110 kilometres away) and the regional capital (Naples, 140 kilometres): the poor mobility infrastructure connecting Monteverde with bigger towns and cities is still considered as one of the main problems affecting the quality of life of the residents.

    Nevertheless, Monteverde benefitted from several advantages based on its cultural and built heritage presenting a strong touristic offer. It was already recognised as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of Italy’ (Borghi Più Belli d’Italia). It aimed to build on this potentially by improving its strategies of territorial marketing to attract more visitors, aiming at the niche group of tourists represented by people with disabilities and their families.

    Who was behind the implementation?

    • The Municipality of Monteverde

    • Pro Loco of Monteverde (local voluntary association for cultural and tourism promotion)

    • Local Youth Forum

    • The Italian Union of Blind People (Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti ONLUS)

    • Higher Education Institute "A.M. Maffucci", based in Calitri (Avellino)

    • Social Centre “Enzo Aprea” for people with disabilities of Atripalda (Avellino)

    What was the local journey?

    1. In 2006, a series of meetings with local and national testimonials from people with different types of disabilities were organised in Monteverde, in order to raise the awareness of local community towards the importance of active inclusion of people with disabilities and its social and economic impact. These meetings involved regional and national NGOs focusing on different types of disabilities, which contributed to identify the needs of residents and visitors with disabilities.

    2. After having mapped historical, architectural and environmental attractions in collaboration with local NGOs, the Municipality launched the project “An Accessible Village”, co-designed with residents, on the creation of a structural model on making the village more accessible.

    3. The presentation of the project to the Regional authority was particularly challenging at bureaucratic level, particularly for the level of details to be followed for very specific actions such as the ones included in the project facing different types of disabilities. But, thankfully, Campania Region quickly recognised its added value and funded the realisation of the actions in the framework of the EU-funded (ERDF) Regional Operational Programmes (POR) 2007-2013.

    4. The Municipality started the procurement process and launched three tenders (physical regeneration; ICT services; materials and furniture). The procurement process was challenging, but the process of innovation procurement was eased by CONSIP, the national public procurement portal used by Monteverde to look for its suppliers.

    5. The construction started with the creation of an accessible outdoor path, then with the removal of architectural barriers in the centre of the village and the installation of sensors and wi-fi hotpots along the main tourism attractions.

    6. Further collaborations established with NGOs focusing on different types of disabilities and the Health District managing Local Social Plan (the local planning tool for welfare services) contributed to improve the project, that was funded again in the framework of the EU-funded (ERDF) regional planning (POR) for the programming period 2014-2020.

    What have been the main outputs & results?

    • Monteverde successful made its village centre more accessible and established a system so that visitors can receive on their smartphone information on the main tourism attractions of the village.
    • The village is also now completing a municipal hotel equipped with 34 rooms available for people with disabilities and their families.
    • The amount of tourists and visitors considerably increased with the organisation of activities and events connected to the Accessible Village project. Already in 2019, more than 1000 blind tourists visited the village and 6000 tourists in total visited the local castle, even though the project was still not fully operational.
    • The European Commission awarded the Access City Award in 2018 to Monteverde, which was the first village to win this prize normally awarded to big cities.
    • The experience of Monteverde was promoted in national events and TV shows, increasing the visibility of the village and its tourism attractiveness.
    • The ongoing aim is to further transform Monteverde into a testbed for innovative solutions on disabilities and tourism. For example, an action of networking with national and regional enterprises active in the production of services and furniture for people with disabilities was established, in view of offering the village as possible testbed for innovation in this field.

    What does it bring the village/community?

    • The approach aims to foster the long-term economic sustainability of the village and allow new economic activities to start up related to increased tourism. Already, the turnover of bars, restaurants and hotels considerably increased in recent years, thanks to the influx of tourists.
    • The new municipal hotel will further contribute to create new employment along the chain of services directly connected to hospitality and services for tourists – contributing to the virtuous cycle of economic growth and new job opportunities.
    • The initiative has also already triggered additional training activities especially devoted to local youth to be employed in tourism, thus contributing to increasing skills for better jobs in local economy.
    • A shared cultural vision on the added value of inclusion of people with disabilities was developed and has been a positive factor in increasing community spirit among residents.
    • The regeneration of public spaces and the removal of architectural barriers is contributing to make the town more walkable also for the local ageing population.

    What’s needed

    Financial resources

    Financial needs:

    • Physical infrastructure investments: Removal of architectural barriers creation of municipal hotel, outdoor, historic and religious path, regeneration of public square, and area for campers, installation of radio-frequency identification system and broadband

    • Services and ICT infrastructure: software, wi-fi hotspots, tactile maps, furniture for municipal hotel, etc.

    Main types of cost:

    • Monteverde was able to invest 2.7 million EUR + VAT in the physical infrastructure modifications, thanks to Regional and ERDF support.

    • It was also able to invest a further 750 000 EUR + VAT in related services and ICT infrastructure.

    Funding received:
    SourceAmountFunded
    Regione Campania POR (ERDF Fund)4,750,000 €Construction work for removal of architectural barriers, ICT equipment and software, creation of outdoor, religious and historical paths, regeneration of a public square, creation of the municipal hotel.

    Human resources

    • A knowledgeable initiator is needed to raise awareness of accessibility issues and inclusivity of people with disabilities.

    • People with disabilities themselves (including through their local or national associations) are needed to provide their crucial perspectives – particularly to take into account the small but important details which are decisive for ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities.

    • A solid political and technical leadership is needed in the Municipality, as the entity in charge of writing the project and managing the whole bidding process and the work of contractors. They also need to be able to mediate among different stakeholders and attract national actors to raise the level of the actions.

    • A pool of engineers and technicians need to be created, for instance in the form of a temporary consortium of professionals, in order to support the local authority in the direction of the construction work.

    Physical resources

    • Broadband

    • Touristic paths along religious, historical and environmental attractions

    • Sensors and Radio-frequency identification system

    • Wi-fi Hotspot

    • Tactile maps

    • An hosting structure (municipal hotel, to be managed by a local cooperative)

    • Accessible urban furniture (sidewalks, etc.)

    What to do…

    • Engage people with disabilities directly in the design of the project.
    • Ensure to engage the local community from the beginning in building understanding of the benefits of inclusion and taking into account the needs of people with disabilities, and more in general the positive role of inclusivity for local growth at economic and social level. Launch a participatory process for the co-creation of the project, involving many local stakeholders active in different fields and covering all phases of the project form the initial idea to specific actions, including public procurement and the delivery of the work.
    • Be ambitious and seek physical investment support from EU-supported programmes.

    and not to do

    • Don’t focus only on the active involvement of the public sector and NGOs, but engage private individuals.

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