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The Rural Digital Divide in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe—Recommendations from a Scoping Review

1
Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
2
Department of Business Administration, University of Zaragoza, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 October 2020 / Revised: 27 November 2020 / Accepted: 3 December 2020 / Published: 5 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Health Informatics)
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the digital vulnerability of many citizens of the rural world. This article identifies and analyzes the proposals made by academic literature to overcome the digital divide in the European rural world for the five-year period 2016–2020. A scoping review has been carried out according to the PRISMA methodology in the two dimensions of the digital divide: access and connectivity, and use and exploitation. Online databases were used to identify scientific articles from which, after screening, 28 key documents were selected. The results update Salemink systematic review of articles published between 1991 and 2014 on digital and rural development in Western countries and it also intends to go beyond by extracting recommendations. A variety of political, social, educational, technical and economic issues has been exposed, with a common emphasis on the empowerment of rural populations. The findings provide actionable evidence and proposals to facilitate decision-making in current policy information to overcome rural digital divide. From them, seven recommendations that could have a wide and rapid impact to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic linked to the rural digital divide are synthesized. Three lines of action in the medium term are also proposed: the evaluation of national and regional public policies; the consideration of digital inclusion as a potential instrument to reduce rural depopulation; and the training in advanced digital skills to improve the social communication processes, considered key to promote empowerment and entrepreneurship. View Full-Text
Keywords: rural communities; digital divide; digital inclusion; scoping review; COVID-19 pandemic; Europe rural communities; digital divide; digital inclusion; scoping review; COVID-19 pandemic; Europe
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MDPI and ACS Style

Esteban-Navarro, M.-Á.; García-Madurga, M.-Á.; Morte-Nadal, T.; Nogales-Bocio, A.-I. The Rural Digital Divide in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe—Recommendations from a Scoping Review. Informatics 2020, 7, 54. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/informatics7040054

AMA Style

Esteban-Navarro M-Á, García-Madurga M-Á, Morte-Nadal T, Nogales-Bocio A-I. The Rural Digital Divide in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe—Recommendations from a Scoping Review. Informatics. 2020; 7(4):54. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/informatics7040054

Chicago/Turabian Style

Esteban-Navarro, Miguel-Ángel, Miguel-Ángel García-Madurga, Tamara Morte-Nadal, and Antonia-Isabel Nogales-Bocio. 2020. "The Rural Digital Divide in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe—Recommendations from a Scoping Review" Informatics 7, no. 4: 54. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/informatics7040054

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