A1 Journal article (refereed)
Drivers, barriers and impacts of digitalisation in rural areas from the viewpoint of experts (2022)

Ferrari, A., Bacco, M., Gaber, K., Jedlitschka, A., Hess, S., Kaipainen, J., Koltsida, P., Toli, E., & Brunori, G. (2022). Drivers, barriers and impacts of digitalisation in rural areas from the viewpoint of experts. Information and Software Technology, 145, Article 106816. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106816

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ferrari, Alessio; Bacco, Manlio; Gaber, Kirsten; Jedlitschka, Andreas; Hess, Steffen; Kaipainen, Jouni; Koltsida, Panagiota; Toli, Eleni; Brunori, Gianluca

Journal or series: Information and Software Technology

ISSN: 0950-5849

eISSN: 1873-6025

Publication year: 2022

Volume: 145

Article number: 106816

Publisher: Elsevier BV

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2021.106816

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/79861


The domain of rural areas, including rural communities, agriculture, and forestry, is going through a process of deep digital transformation. Digitalisation can have positive impacts on sustainability in terms of greater environmental control, and community prosperity. At the same time, it can also have disruptive effects, with the marginalisation of actors that cannot cope with the change. When developing a novel system for rural areas, requirements engineers should carefully consider the specific socio-economic characteristics of the domain, so that potential positive effects can be maximised, while mitigating negative impacts.

The goal of this paper is to support requirements engineers with a reference catalogue of drivers, barriers and potential impacts associated to the introduction of novel ICT solutions in rural areas.

To this end, we interview 30 cross-disciplinary experts in digitalisation of rural areas, and we analyse the transcripts to identify common themes.

According to the experts, main drivers are economic, with the possibility of reducing costs, and regulatory, as institutions push for more precise tracing and monitoring of production; barriers are the limited connectivity, but also distrust towards technology and other socio-cultural aspects; positive impacts are socio-economic (e.g., reduction of manual labor, greater productivity), while negative ones include potential dependency from technology, with loss of hands-on expertise, and marginalisation of certain actors (e.g., small farms, subjects with limited education).

This paper contributes to the literature with a domain-specific catalogue that characterises digitalisation in rural areas. The catalogue can be used as a reference baseline for requirements elicitation endeavours in rural areas, to support domain analysis prior to the development of novel solutions, as well as fit-gap analysis for the adaptation of existing technologies.

Keywords: countryside; agriculture; forestry; digitalisation; environmental effects; economic effects; development (active); sustainable development; regional development; software development; technological development; productivity

Free keywords: software engineering; requirements engineering; sustainability requirements; interviews; digitalisation; empirical study

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2022-14-09 at 12:20