Public consultation: TAP Smart connectivity

The ESPON’s accessibility indicators demonstrate that, overall, there are significant disparities in accessibility at the regional and local levels. From most locations in Europe, at least one regional centre can be reached in less than 60 minutes’ travel time. However, only in western Europe more than five different cities can be reached within this 1-hour time frame. Infrastructure endowment is still much lower in eastern Europe. According to the latest European Commission analysis (2022), cities consistently perform better than suburbs and rural areas in all European countries, for instance, when regional and territorial accessibility indicators for passenger rail or road are considered.

This dichotomy is rather hard to resolve, perhaps even impossible in some cases, thus “digital” is the new connector, bringing new opportunities for the less connected areas, where physical connectivity is and perhaps always will be handicapped. The digital transition can improve access to services and transform how territories respond to territorial development challenges stemming from physical accessibility, remoteness and peripherality.

In simple terms, “smart connectivity” in this TAP means a focus on digital transition of connectivity patterns,  and using digital and green solutions to enhance transport and passenger mobility and accessibility.  The objective of this TAP is to link digitalisation and mobility, and develop a knowledge base as regards to understanding how digital transition can help dealing with territorial challenges and digital cohesion, especially related to low accessibility (for instance, via a better and smarter (greener) connectivity, improved digital skills and new ways how to organise public services across different levels of governance). In addition, through the observations for the entire ESPON Programme area, this TAP intends to provide analysis and policy guidance on how to improve transport and passenger mobility and accessibility in places which are outside of high speed networks and fall into enclaves of lower accessibility and consequently potential reduced economic potential.

This TAP shall not have a profound focus on innovation to support business development in terms of exploring such elements as “comparative advantage”, creating added value, etc. The innovation shall be explored more from the context of private sector offering appropriate solutions to public administrations.

This TAP shall also be future-looking and have a profound focus on the foresight element, in order not to arrive at obvious conclusions, given the vast efforts (funding and research wise) already dedicated to digital transition. The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) has, in this context, developed four scenarios (November 2022) on how digital cohesion might look like in the coming decades.

Among others, this TAP:

  • Includes methodological studies aimed at accessing new data and developing appropriate indicators in order to assess digitalization, connectivity at territorial level in terms of current states of affairs and development potentials.
  • Supports organisational change and scaling up of digital skills and paramount digital solutions (CEF building blocks, minimal interoperability mechanisms, standards), in order to support digital transition efforts of territories via smart connectivity.
  • Improves access to basic public services for all citizens, especially for those in less connected areas via support in delivering digital solutions ( e-government, e-health, e-energy and e-transport, etc.) and improved digital skills via vocational training, youth initiatives and other activities.

Strengthens the capacities and digital skills of policy makers in order develop appropriate and tailored regional and local digital strategies via citizen-centric approach, service design (co-creation, innovation 2.0), by taking into account also the role of digital innovation ecosystems.


Read more about the Thematic Action Plan (TAP) on ‘Smart Connectivity’ in the document that is attached below. 

Do you want to comment, add or propose something new in relation to this TAP? Join the debate! How?

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Smart Connectivity_presentation.pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 860KB

TAP smart connectivity - input paper .pdf

  • Acrobat Document | 691KB