Research project Enhancing Competitiveness, Resilience and Sustainability of Remote Farming, Forestry and Rural Areas
Enhancing Competitiveness, Resilience and Sustainability of Remote Farming, Forestry and Rural Areas through Holistic Assessment of Smart XG, Last-mile and Edge Solutions’ Gains
Main research question
The absence of high-performance high-speed Internet connections in some of Europe's rural areas has dire consequences. This impacts not only everyday private activities but also supply chains, education, health and the local agricultural sector. XGain aims to close the digital divide between urbanized and rural areas. Digitalization and technology that is on the rise around the world will otherwise become a missed train for the rural areas in question. The main reason that there is no or limited access often appears to be more commercial in nature (low population density, little existing infrastructure, variable landscape) than technical. This means that, given effort, it is therefore possible to achieve digital transformation in rural areas.
The research groups involved in XGain are using and testing a series of technical solutions for digital connectivity in different geographical locations and sectors. In Spain, for example, an agricultural application is planned that will use 5G-connected drones to monitor agricultural crops. In Greece, an experiment is deploying eHealth robots to help rural elderly people as caregivers and companions. In the Scilly Isles in the UK, they are organizing a trial of balloons and drones to provide 5G coverage. Lithuania is test zone for a hybrid solution in precision agriculture and in Croatia they are going to roll out an Internet of Things and satellite network to monitor an oyster farm. Finally, in Flanders, ILVO is aiming to develop a "digital shepherd" that can graze and monitor extensive livestock through cameras and drones.
The abovementioned scenarios are already valuable, and XGain will use them to develop a decision support tool called the Knowledge Facilitation Tool. This tool will help rural communities and individual stakeholders identify the optimal connectivity solution for their situation. It will also be possible to make a trade-off between connectivity and edge processing (data processing on site). In addition, the effect on a socio-economic scale, climate and environment is also mapped out. XGain therefore wants to support entrepreneurs and rural areas in Europe in finding the best digital connectivity solution.
EU Horizon Europe