Smart Villages, Rural Infrastructure and Sustainable Development 

Call for papers for: Built Environment Project and Asset Management

Submission opens on Scholar One (do not submit before this date): 1st November 2020

Submission window closes: 15th January 2021

Guest editors

Associate Professor Hemanta Doloi, University of Melbourne

Email: [email protected] 

Associate Professor Robert Crawford, University of Melbourne

Email: [email protected] 

Prof Koshy Varghese, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) 

Email: [email protected]  

Overview of special issue

Among almost 8 billion global population, over 40% still lives in rural areas. Yet, cities have always attracted more attention than rural communities, largely because money, knowledge and power are concentrated in those cities. Research and intellectual debate required for supporting growth and development of people in the countryside have been largely left behind, and ignored. However, in the current race of rapid urbanisation against time, there is global interest in research associated with the creation of “Smart Villages” to address the ever growing urban-rural divide. By undertaking this timely special issue, the significance of “Smart Villages” concept as an alternative form of development of the rural areas is being established. The implication of the Smart Villages models is being highlighted for potentially stemming the flow of people towards already overcrowded and unsustainable growth of cities globally. Realising the knowledge gap in the mainstream literature, the multifaceted considerations required for developing rural infrastructure systems and ensuring sustainable development is a complete new way for building smart communities under the auspice of Smart Villages. Focusing on a large range of interconnected topics, for the first time, this special issue converges the new knowledge and theories being developed among academia, industry professionals and policy makers required for context specific development of the rural infrastructure and promote sustainable growth contributing towards mitigation of the urban-rural divide.

The need for research with a particular focus on the rural community and harnessing their potentials and opportunities for modernisation and sustainable growth is a need of the hour. Smart Village research being undertaken in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne has been exploring rural community development, practices and relevant policies with a focus on community-centric planning of affordable housing, infrastructure, sustainable development and growth, community empowerment and other issues related to the creation of Smart Villages. The Smart Villages Lab (SVL) within the Faculty is leading the data-driven and evidence-based original research for developing new knowledge and theory with a focus on rural planning, housing and infrastructure. Research in this area is of critical need.

Smart villages, rural infrastructure and sustainable development topics have global appeal because policy makers and administrators especially across developing countries are striving to harness the potential and maximise the opportunities leading to rapid upgrading of rural communities. For instance, over past decade, massive public schemes in India are being rolled out to provide shelter and services for over 850 million people in village communities across the country.   The research contributed in this Special Issue could strengthen institutional capacities of the relevant countries by testing relevant theories and practical implementations.   As a result, the articles published in this Special Issue should garner higher visibility and, in turn, provide a sound platform for dissemination of leading-edge research findings and best practices leading to building smart rural communities.

The proposed Special Issue titled “Smart Villages, Rural Infrastructure and Sustainable Developmentaspires to encourage authors to develop papers encompassing the following objectives: 

  1. To explore the depth and breadth of world best practice knowledge and prevailing theories and supporting the growth and development of new theories and practices relevant to the emerging area of Smart Villages and Rural Infrastructure, thereby contributing to establish priorities and benchmarks required for promoting new forms of Sustainable Rural Development. 
  2. To investigate how to minimise the ever-increasing gaps between urban and rural infrastructure and understand the theoretical underpinnings for supporting the sustainable growth of rural infrastructure as an enabler for empowering rural or regional communities.
  3. To identify any changes required in the practice, processes and governance around rural infrastructure towards sustainable development practices of rural or regional communities.
  4. To explore the interdependencies between rural economics, infrastructure and community, identify the risks and vulnerability and thereby develop resilience encompassing conceptualisation, implementation, delivery and operations of the next generation rural infrastructure systems.
  5. To understand the evolution of drivers underpinning the adoption of past infrastructure models and to identify institutional frameworks and organizations that can be invigorated for enhancing efficiency, performance and sustainability in the rural infrastructure and community support systems for holistic national development of smart communities.
  6. To balance high-profile thrusts to develop smart cities with a platform to launch increasingly important initiatives to develop smart villages and related infrastructure for holistic national development, for which the imperatives have been accentuated by climate change and pandemic disasters.
  7. To explore and understand the current funding provisions, underlying inefficiencies and impediments and thereby possible establishment of alternative funding models for delivery, operations and maintenance and renewals of smart villages and rural infrastructure promoting sustainable development

Indicative list of anticipated themes

  • Infrastructures, society and community 
  • Rural infrastructure  - contexts and principles  
  • Data-driven planning and decision making  
  • Smart Villages, infrastructure and national economy 
  • Global practices in rural infrastructure  
  • Sustainable infrastructure  
  • Risks, vulnerability and resilience in infrastructure  
  • Funding and procurement  
  • Delivery, operations and maintenance and renewals 
  • Infrastructure Governance 
  • Smart and sustainable housing 
  • Health and wellbeing 
  • Internet of Things 

Submission details

All submissions must be made via ScholarOne

For more information, please see the author guidelines

The above ‘author guidelines’ must be strictly followed.

Important notes: The total word count limit (including Figures and Tables, counted at 280 words each) is 8,500 words. Submissions above that limit can not be considered.
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Interested authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue “Smart Villages, Rural Infrastructure and Sustainable Development” at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.


Papers for this special issue should be submitted through the above portal before 15th January 2021.

[Note: new submissions after the deadline of 15th January 2021 cannot be considered for this Special Issue].

Additional information

Authors may if they wish, send draft abstracts. If so, these must be in the structured Emerald format as specified in the Author Guidelines and should be emailed to Associate Professor Hemanta Doloi to [email protected]