The flood of rural citizens to the world’s urban centres continues unabated. Half the world’s population lives in cities, and the UN predicts that by the time the world’s population reaches nine billion in 2050, more than 70 per cent of the population will be city dwellers.

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced The Rural Imperative, a program to explore how information and communications technologies can address the challenges that shape rural economies.

The primary challenges to the rural economy are low population density and lack of scale, according to ICF co-founder Robert Bell. “Inventive application” of technology can bring prosperity to rural areas and offer urban dwellers the option of moving from the city, he said in a statement.

ICF plans to model strategies that use technology to address rural challenges and share them, with rural communities, said co-founder Louis Zacharilla.

Two Canadian cities, Stratford, Ont., and Toronto, are on the short list for the ICF’s Intelligent Communities awards for 2013.

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