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Impact of the Information Society on planning of less-favoured regions

The European Commission, ISPO, has published a study on "The impact of the Information Society on the territorial planning of the less-favoured regions".

The major part of the report is a set of six case studies carried out in three Member States. These were designed to highl...
The European Commission, ISPO, has published a study on "The impact of the Information Society on the territorial planning of the less-favoured regions".

The major part of the report is a set of six case studies carried out in three Member States. These were designed to highlight various aspects of territorial planning, and to provide examples of different kinds of regions, different kinds of planning environment and different approaches to the Information Society.

Key issues identified in the study include:

- Infrastructure investment is generally decided by operators and not by planners, with little coordination between the two;
- The approach to Information Society infrastructure investments tends to be technology-led, with little consideration of the human skills and expertise required;
- Evidence can be found of both decentralization and centralization resulting from Information Society infrastructure developments in regions;
- All of the cases considered suggest that the least favoured tend to lose out, whether they are the most remote or the poorest regions;
- Whilst those responsible for Information Society developments at local and regional levels are generally very competent, there is a lack of awareness of the possibilities at higher levels, where overall plans and budgets tend to be decided.

The study puts forward a number of conclusions on the basis of the evidence identified in the six regions. For Information Society services to contribute best to territorial planning, regional plans need to be developed. Furthermore, planning for Information Society developments needs to be clearly integrated into territorial planning, with real assessment of the effects on areas such as education, training and business development. Local demonstrators need to be established to provide concrete evidence of the benefits to be gained from Information Society services. In addition, the concept of a learning society needs to be promoted, using the new opportunities opened up by the Information Society. Finally, the study calls for greater promotion of inter-regional cooperation for the implementation of Information Society services and applications.

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