Fifteen UK locations are the torch bearers for a national project rewarding places for adopting digital technology to boost business, tourism and local collaboration.
The project gives each location a benchmark score based on what digital technology is already in place, the outcomes it has achieved, and the vision they have for implementing new technology to achieve their goals in the future.
What the winners get
All winners will receive a Real Towns bronze, silver or gold certificate along with a badge to display on their website, social media and printed promotional material identifying them as leading UK digital practitioners.
After the scores have been tallied, the towns will be placed on a Digital League Table with each striving to climb the ladder by attracting more investment, employment, visitors and community engagement.
Other incentives, including access to discounted digital products and services from Revive & Thrive suppliers and digital strategy advice from Real Towns, will be made available to participating towns to expand their digital footprint and achieve the ultimate prize of becoming a true Digital Hub.
Shaun Fagan at Northwich
Real Towns managing director Shaun Fagan says he is impressed by how some places are embracing smart technology to build healthy, thriving communities.
"It's a no brainer, really. All places have to broaden their horizons and look beyond their local areas to capitalise on the opportunities digital technology brings to make them vibrant communities for people to live, work and visit," he said.
"Who would've thought something like Pokemon Go would be the global phenomenon it became. Almost by accident it got people outdoors and engaging with places and businesses everywhere.
"There's much more to vibrant towns than pop-up shops and car parking solutions. We are at the start of a revolution that can make our places much more interesting and engaging in the future if we open our minds to the possibilities."
The Northwich conference was attended by more than 100 delegates, suppliers, town teams, place managers and Business Improvement District (BID) representatives and featured prestigious guest speakers, practical placemaking workshops and networking opportunities - making it one of the biggest placemaking events on the calendar for this year.
The spirit of collaboration saw prizes worth more than £30,000 given away, including a £20,000 free wi-fi package from Elephant Wifi.
And the winners are . . .
The initial winners of the Real Towns/Revive & Thrive Digital Hub project are:
- Ashfield DC
- Basingstoke BID
- Bedford BID
- Blackburn BID
- Gloucester Rd
- Letchworth BID
- Mansfield BID
- Northwich BID
- Purley BID
- Swansea BID
- 21st Century Thame
- Wimborne BID
Another five locations will join them as the Local Legends programme continues. And one lucky winner will receive a Real Town Tour - a mobile app featuring their town's major attractions - worth £1500.
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