Poor digital connectivity, a lack of supporting business infrastructure, a skills ‘digital divide’ are part of the regional economic picture shaping towns in mid Wales. The economy is large and predominantly rural and is known for its natural beauty, historic towns, and strong cultural identities. And despite many economic strengths, the region’s economy has its digital and data challenges with structural weaknesses that are currently hindering the potential of its residents and businesses to flourish.
Driving investment in digital through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and supporting the adoption and exploitation of next-generation technologies has been prioritised to make Mid Wales a more competitive as a region. New digital technology like 5G plus the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and data analytics have the potential to open up new businesses and improve the lives of communities. To capitalise on recent investment, Powys County Council are working with Owen Davies Consulting and Cwmpas to harness the full potential of infrastructure investment across three towns – Llanfair Caereinion, Newtown and Ystradgynlais.
Each town will prepare its own Digital Place Plan including a digital place diagnostic – a series of placemaking, physical infrastructure, software and third-party data criteria – for assessing how far a town has traveled along the ‘journey’ towards becoming a ‘smart town’. And businesses, organisation or groups will receive bespoke digital support including a bespoke digital improvement plan outlining, areas for development, examples of similar businesses utilising digital in productive ways and areas where ongoing learning would be beneficial/should be considered.
Digital placemaking is a key strategic opportunity for rural towns across Mid Wales and its implementation over the next 12 months will inform potential expansion across an additional six towns to enable Mid Wales to accelerate our economic ambitions and add even further value to ongoing investments at both a regional and local level.
If you are interested in this project and digital placemaking, we recently delivered an online masterclass as part of Welsh Government’s Smart Towns Cymru initiative. If you missed it, you can now watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FVspi0X6g3E
We also have a short film explaining all about our Digital Place Plans you can watch here: https://youtu.be/7yFechhxRrE