Bit Generation brings information society into remote alpine areas

With the creation of a network of internet access points, the organisation of information events and the broadening of e-government services, ICT access in the mountainous border area between Italy and Austria is strengthened, lowering the “digital divide”.

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The Bit Generation project aims to spread IT technology in remote alpine areas. © Province of Belluno The Bit Generation project aims to spread IT technology in remote alpine areas. © Province of Belluno

" We believe that the success of this project lies in the fact that we try to give a 360° answer to the issues that complicate the use of technology in the mountain areas: the digital divide, including infrastructural, cultural and social issues. It will not be possible to solve all of the problems related to this, but the activities will serve to empower people of these communities, and convince young people, administrators, stakeholders, and decision makers of the value of ICT for the development of mountain areas. "

Chiara Buttignon, Lead partner assistant, Province of Belluno

Through the organisation of trainings and workshops, which form the centre of the project, IT professionals, staff from local administrations, and young people have the opportunity to exchange knowledge on the use of new technologies which help to create effective online services for citizens and strengthen social inclusion and the socio-economic development in the region.

The Interreg-Council Dolomiti Live, an advisory network for cross-border cooperation between Austria and Italy, took up the idea of involving digital natives – the so-called “bit generation” of young people born after 1985. The exchange across generations could help elderly people become familiar with IT services such as e-commerce, social media, and the “i-cloud”. At the same time, an ideas competition aims to create greater awareness among young people about the possibility of using new technologies as tools for democracy and e-government, thereby encouraging active citizenship.

Having new IT access points – and knowing how to use them

In practice, the Bit Generation project has involved the set-up of a network of open access points to IT resources in different public spaces, such as libraries, meeting places, youth hostels, etc., which now offer free Wi-Fi and enable the local population without internet access at home to benefit from digital services.

This process was accompanied by trainings and additional conferences and meetings, over the course of which operators participating in the project formed in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and in particular of free web services, such as wikis, blogs, or social media.

Different uses of ICT

Research carried out as part of project confirmed that the digital behaviour of “digital natives” such as students differs significantly from that of staff of the communal administrations. Besides a more frequent use of new technologies, students also spend more time on online games than adults. Geographical differences were also observed.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Bit Generation – Promoting access to the information society in mountainous areas” is EUR 375 110 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 236 319 through the “Italy-Austria” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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