Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed this week an order to accelerate the development of the national smart village and smart city projects.
A special working group of high-ranking public officials is tasked with transforming the settlements in the country into locations that apply cutting-edge technologies.
Improving the quality, safety and efficiency of services provided in urban and rural areas, utilizing information technology and ensuring the effective use and management of available resources for these services are among the top priorities of hi-tech-based sustainable developments.
The smart village and smart city developments will leverage modern telecommunication facilities, sensor technologies, big data and other digital and artificial intelligence technologies, according to the document. Integrated use of these technologies should be key in the formation, collection, storage, processing and analyzing the digital data designed to improve the effectiveness and quality of services.
The document instructs the working group to involve representatives of government agencies, specialized consulting companies, local and foreign experts for preparing and submitting a draft concept and safety and technical requirements for infrastructure that will be formed as part of the “smart” concepts.
A smart city applies information and communication technology (ICT) in order to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and ensure a better quality of government service and citizen welfare. Optimization of city functions and promotion of economic growth, while simultaneously improving the quality of life for citizens by using smart technologies and data analysis are the main objectives of the smart city system.
A smart village concept refers to rural areas and communities where traditional and new networks and services are enhanced by means of digital, telecommunication technologies, innovations and the better use of knowledge for the benefit of residents and businesses. Digital technologies are designed to raise living standards, improve public services for citizens, ensure better use of resources, reduce environmental impact and create new opportunities for rural value chains in terms of products and improved processes.
“The main goal of the implementation of 'Smart Village' projects around the world is to prevent the people’s flow from villages to cities. In other words, conditions must be created for people in rural areas so that all services available to the population in the city can be easily accessed in the villages, as well,” a representative of the Agriculture Ministry of Azerbaijan, Toghrul Gafarbeyli said.
Gafarbeyli added that a village’s smart solutions should allow residents to earn more and access job opportunities in rural areas. The third point, he explained, is to create full conditions for ensuring access of villagers to public services, meaning, the concept of "smart village" should eliminate the gap between rural and urban communities with regards to services, income and access to public services.
The government of Azerbaijan has already rolled out a project for building a smart village in the territories liberated from Armenia’s occupation last year. In February, President Aliyev announced that the first smart village in Azerbaijan will be developed in the Aghali village of the liberated Zangilan district. Around 200 homes will be built in the area that will be transformed into a modern and urban settlement. The project covers 5 key components of development: housing, production, social services, smart agriculture and alternative energy.