Of the 33 case studies in the RELOCAL project, Digital Västerbotten is the action that covers the largest area. The locality we are looking at is called Region 10 and includes 8 inland municipalities in Västerbotten and 2 in Norrbotten, where 49 400 people live on an area of 62 600 km2.
Because of long distances, aging population and outmigration to bigger coastal cities Västerbotten have been a forerunner in broadband connectivity and digital solutions for a long time. Many rural areas in Europe are today following a similar trend of depopulation and weak economy why this case can give insights to how digital solutions can facilitate cooperation between municipalities and thereby reduce costs and share competence. The understanding is that digital solutions can provide inland citizens with societal services such as care, education, bank services or government agencies, which in many inland municipalities have been moved from the area due to centralisation.
The action Digital Västerbotten have provided motivation and platforms to the municipal leaders to increase cooperation around digital services. It has also rendered tools and knowledge to start the local digital transformation within the municipalities as well as administered 42 new e-services that can be accessed and used by all municipalities. In the process of digitalizing public services, it is important to acknowledge how this development can create a digital divide where older generations and people with neurocognitive dysfunction are left behind if analogue services are not also accessible. How to balance the implementation of digital solutions while at the same time protecting the democratic value of inclusion is discussed in connection to this action.