Town centre WiFi, a ‘digital brand’ and a website are just some of things Cupar will boast when it becomes Scotland’s first Digital Improvement District.
The project is being piloted in Cupar and could act as a potential model for future small town designs.
The pilot is a partnership with Fife Council, Destination Digital, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, and ABCD, the Association of Businesses in Cupar & District, and is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to fund a business improvement district dedicated to digital improvement.
The model will enable Cupar’s businesses to build digital technologies, introducing town centre WiFi, a ‘digital brand’ and website for the town. It will also provide digital skills support, including effective social media use.
MSP Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, visited the town on Wednesday.
“The pilot enables Cupar to showcase its digital capabilities, ultimately demonstrating the need for smart towns as well as smart cities, using a sustainable tailored model,” he said.
“Cupar will soon be able to enjoy exemplar WiFi and model the delivery of digital infrastructure within towns through strategic collaborations and partnerships with local businesses, agencies and communities to best meet their needs.
“For some businesses they may begin the journey with their first engagement with social media advertising, but it could also become a test bed for opportunities around the Internet of Things, such as addressing traffic flows, lighting, air quality, flooding, and better business intelligence.”
Already a social media channel – Cupar Now – has been launched, highlighting the different shops in the town, what events are coming up, and featuring video.
The pilot project could be a real boost for Cupar’s town centre, which has lost a number of stores over the last few years.
Concerns were expressed last year about this issue, with MP Stephen Gethins calling for more to be done to protect town centres.
Alison Strachan of ABCD, said she was “looking forward to seeing a bit of a buzz about Cupar” and that other towns and villages would be watching.
“I think Cupar is a bit invisible,” she added.
“I think this will put Cupar on the internet map. The Cupar Facebook page is already up and running. An ambassador will be going around the businesses to get content from them.
“What’s particularly good is that they will be sharing events from local organisations. It puts it out there that Cupar is quite a vibrant place.
“I think it will be a fantastic thing for Cupar.”
Ms Strachan believes the project will help promote the various businesses around the town.
“Those that understand it are really on board,” she added. “They can see the benefits.”
Councillor Margaret Kennedy welcomed the announcement.
“It is fantastic news indeed that this funding has been secured,” she said.
“The pilot period will enable us all to see the benefits of what can be achieved through knowing ‘your visitors’.
“There has been a lot of behind the scenes work to ensure that Cupar is best placed to capitalise on what this pilot would bring forward. I am very pleased to have been able to show my support for the project.
“It is up to us all to get behind this project and help drive forward Cupar’s status on the digital platform; together we can make a real positive difference.”
The new Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/cuparnow.