Concept & Methodology

Concept and Motivation

New trends, such as teleworking and e-commerce, as well as the need for a further increase of digital tools in all sectors (i.e. health, education, transportation, farming, etc.) demanded by the Covid-19 pandemic, are once again pointing out digital territorial inequalities, supply-chain disruptions and deficiencies in economic opportunities, that hamper resilience and prosperity of rural communities. Yet, the urban–rural digital gap, and the lack of highspeed connectivity remain strong. Rural communities that, with the suitable means, could have been the major guides for managing, protecting, and using natural resources, are lagging not only in technological infrastructure but also in equal opportunities and socio-environmental sustainability. Accessibility and connectivity are key issues to mitigate this erosion of socio-territorial cohesion. As the rural and coastal citizens are among the most vulnerable populations, every community’s resilience, competitiveness, and capacity need to be enhanced, to contribute to and benefit from the upcoming transitions in a fair manner. However, identifying a common solution for equipping rural communities with increased access to services, opportunities and adequate innovation ecosystems, and ensuring that no one left behind, is a challenging task, mainly due to the diversity of challenges and needs of different locations.


In this respect, XGain fosters a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive development of rural, coastal and urban areas, by facilitating access of relevant stakeholders (such as municipalities, policymakers, farmers, foresters and their associations) to a comprehensive inventory of smart XG, last-mile connectivity and edge computing solutions, and of related assessment methods. The XGain overall project objective is, to deliver a Knowledge Facilitation Tool, facilitating business model development, supporting decision-making in the selection of an ecosystem of technologies, consisting of connectivity options and edge processing solutions. This is done by following a multi-actor and practitioner-oriented approach, and by coherently assessing their socio-economic and techno environmental effects, aiming at: increasing systemic resilience and energy efficiency; contributing to climate mitigation; and reducing the digital divides between different types of citizens, farms, sectors and regions.


The core ambition of XGain is to develop a cost-effective and environmentally friendly ecosystem of technologies, to assess the socio economic and environmental effects related to them and develop innovative business models in accordance with the performed assessments, integrated in a Knowledge Facilitation Tool indented for non-scientists.


XGain will analyse a portfolio of connectivity and edge computing solutions to address the different set of requirements and challenges that exist on diverse application verticals (e.g. health and wellbeing guidance, livestock, agriculture, etc.) in rural communities. The assessment of different high-tech solutions at community, regional and farm level, will apply future oriented (foresight) methods to assign series of assumptions about inclusiveness with each high-tech development.


Accordingly, social exclusion analyses, including indicators covering income, education, race, and age factors will be conducted, and social innovation analyses, including indicators covering factors of scale (referring to number of people and networks involved), scope (referring to institutional and policy setting), and resonance (referring to abilities to change existing habits and imagine possibilities outside the scope of present) will be conducted to support co-creation dialogues among multi-actors in each case. A technoeconomic analysis of the technical solutions will also allow the development of the most appropriate business models. The methodology takes into consideration different aspects necessary for the evaluation, such as demand forecast for the services (logistic models), estimation about the evolution of prices of the network components (learning curves), operation administration and maintenance costs, forecast of the expected revenues.


Another essential element is the dimensioning rules that are defined for each network topology and access technology. The methodology includes a detailed cost analysis of the components using a bottom-up approach, and its strength is into comparing different technical alternatives and scenarios and selecting the most attractive one using economic indicators. The above are complemented with environmental indicators and Green ICT analytics, aiming to assess the Environmental and Climate Impact of the proposed Interventions. Everything is compiled in a single Knowledge Facilitation Tool, allowing non experts to better assess this new ecosystem of technologies.



The XGain Knowledge Facilitation tool will provide:


  • User Input and Personalised Solutions Recommendation
  • Connectivity and Edge Processing Enablers Stocktaking
  • Service Optimisation Enablers
  • Business Models Development and Dynamic Selection
  • Environmental, Climate, Social and Economic Analysis


XGain follows an iterative multi-step development approach in which user requirements and corresponding solutions evolve through multiple iterative collaboration rounds between all the stakeholders taking into consideration the outcomes of the Knowledge Facilitation Tool. The core of the methodology is agile approach, adaptive development and continuous improvement based on iterative rounds including the following 4 phases:


  1. Definition phase
  2. Testing of Technologies and first version of the Knowledge Facilitation Tool
  3. XGain Tool Testing and Technology Validation
  4. Implementation Phase

In the video below, the project coordinator, ICCS, introduces the XGain Project: