About the project

To date most work on benchmarking ICT in Europe has concentrated on the relative prevalence of individual technologies in nation states. Given the complex substitution opportunities ICT offers, this offers little insight into developments of far greater importance: the transformational impact of ICT on economy and society. It also ignores the fact that ICT impacts and innovation are best observed at regional not national level. Thirdly, the role of regional culture in influencing the success (or lack thereof) of knowledge society related policies in a given regional setting appears to have been overlooked all too often.

Transformational use of ICT includes:

  • at the level of the individual: the purposeful and beneficial use of ICT within everyday lives, for example in the domains of working, lifelong learning, health and well-being;
  • at the level of a company: the extent to which structural changes in business processes are taking place, linked to ICT, which tend to impact discernibly upon the depth and effectiveness of inter-firm networking and modes of production;
  • at the level of regional public sector: use of ICTs for strategic changes to the design and delivery of government and ‘public’ services (e.g. more effective/efficient inter-agency collaboration and partnership building) and for fostering civic participation.
transform structure

In all of these domains, it appears obvious that (social, institutional, organisational) networks and the process of networking play a key role – that means the utilisation of ICT by regional agents to exchange knowledge and information or to collaborate with other agents inside and beyond the boundaries of the region.

As large shares of regional investments are being spent on ICT in all regions of the EU, it has become more and more important to measure the spread and use of ICT, as well as its impact, at the level of individual regions. If transformative use of ICT is what really matters, efforts should focus on providing better insight into the phenomenon, as well as tried and tested statistical indicators to measure it. Unfortunately, available statistical indicators are not able to capture in full differences between regions in the effectiveness with which ICT are used for advancing the goals of its stakeholder groups.

Tranfsorms use of ICT

TRANSFORM, a project under the sixth framework of European Commissioned funded research, has set out to contribute to meeting these needs. TRANSFORM sought to:

 

 

  • draw up a conceptual framework to better understand transformational use of ICT and its relation to regional development;
  • review available evidence from the research and practitioner literature;
  • take stock of available indicators and measurement approaches for exploring IT-related, transformative change in regions;
  • carry out in-depth primary research in 12 case study regions across Europe;
  • construct and test a set of indicators on ICT-related transformative change at regional level;
  • develop concrete suggestions how the evidence collected should feed into regional policy-making;
  • and provide recommendations how the issues addressed can feasibly be taken up by the European Statistical System and other providers of region-level comparative data.

The project team brought together the renowned Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies at the University of Newcastle (CURDS); Professor Gareth Hughes, a senior freelance consultant with vast experience in the field of Information Society European policy development, namely at regional level; the Department of Geography of Queen Mary - University of London (QMUL) and eris@, the European Regional Information Society Association, which, among other activities, has been the coordinator of the projects IANIS and IANIS+ Innovative Actions Network for the Information Society. TRANSFORM was coordinated by empirica (Communication and Technology Research), a German based private consultancy with long experience in EU-wide research on benchmarking and statistical indicators on information society, knowledge economy and overall regional development related issues.

 

Download the project flyer here