Traditional and emerging interest networks supported by the advancement of digital and telecommunication technologies, the growing use of bioenergy and the ability to take advantage of knowledge beneficial for local populations and business development promote strategic breakthroughs of rural communities. The paper focuses on the problem of the smart village development with respect to a sustainable rural regional development. The aim of the research is to identify the preconditions for rural area progress and smart rural villages driving forces in Lithuania. The research object concerns the principles and driving forces of the development of smart villages. The research methods inter alia included analysis, systematization, and comparison of scientific literature, documents, and good practice examples. Analysis of the experiences of villages and local/international organizations and research into the best practices helped to identify the drivers and the key principles of the smart village development. The case study revealed that three out of five selected pilot rural areas of Lithuania have an innovative potential with some of the smart village principles adopted. The main constraints identified by the study were related to the lack of technological, digital or energy efficiency innovation and human resources in rural areas.
This article reveals the importance of different methods for assessment of social infrastructure (SI) development needs in rural areas. Rural social infrastructure is a significant element of rural territories interpreted in different ways: as social and economic system, basic services for local community, social bridge for integrating different social groups into the society, important factor for satisfaction of rural people’s needs and acknowledgement of their human rights. Besides the mentioned importance of SI to rural areas and rural community, the lack of exploration of methods for analysis of the needs for developing rural social infrastructure has been noticed in the scientific literature. The research aim is therefore to analyse the methods for assessment of needs of rural social infrastructure. The research question has been set accordingly: how different methods for need analysis could be applied to social infrastructure planning and development? The research results show that need analysis is generally linked to various methods, but for the SI planning, development and implementation specifically, there are certain methods, the application of which depends on specifics of rural areas (as territory) and features of local community.
Social infrastructure is largely related to various services for community, facilities and public spaces, relationships and networks among local community members. It is therefore obvious that social infrastructure could be viewed as an important factor for creating better opportunities for integration and participation in society, fostering functional capabilities of a community, acknowledging human rights, improving judgements related to overall life satisfaction. The links between social infrastructure services and focus on local community wellbeing in Lithuanian’s social science discourse has not been substantiated sufficiently yet. Consequently, this article aims at disclosing the importance of social infrastructure services in promotion of local community wellbeing. The research question of this article is formulated as follows: how social infrastructure services contribute and could promote wellbeing of local community. The methodological background is based on both theoretical and empirical findings pertaining to the topic. The research results have suggested that the need of local community for social infrastructure services should be evaluated more carefully in the context of wellbeing. These services have been found to play significant role in reaching a certain level of wellbeing in view of the place where people live, how they feel and how to evaluate the future of their living.