Conceptual fuzziness persists around the idea of intra-metropolitan and post-industrial peripheries like Tower Hamlets in East London, and Swedish Northern peripheries. Nevertheless, spatial distributions like the 93rd Banlieue in Paris, peri-urban areas like Sea Lots, and rustic communities like Nepal in North Oropuche, have attracted the attention of spatial planners.
Prior to the COVID-19 portal that accelerated the digital transition, the axial concept in most spatial theories was distance and its role in inducing or obstructing economic development. But in our post-distance era, the internet has reversed all of that since the internet is both the sea and the sail.
And while digital transformation has shortened distances, it lengthens distances to the technological frontier as the “Flat World” leans forward to build a new competitive advantage. Network readiness has driven fresh thinking around peripherality, and this has resulted in bespoke approaches that address development challenges along four dimensions: economic, environmental, cultural, and geo-political.
In Pousghin, northeast of Ouagadougou, community health workers – or “agents de santé à base communautaire” – use the Mhealth_Burkina App to capture key health data on citizens in remote areas. To strengthen surveillance of disease outbreaks and to buttress an agile response, the data captured by the Mhealth_Burkina is connected to the DHIS2 – a centralized health management system.
This geo-political initiative is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation through the Data Science Catalytic Fund and combines technology, proficiency, technical assistance, and capacity building. The method reduces data omission, data duplication, and the use of paper records and handbooks.
The App provides community workers with guidance on diagnosis, treatment, referrals, and follow-ups, and is a first step towards a One-Patient One-Record Model. The App is also a platform for Self-Directed Lifelong Learning. Users can refresh their knowledge and skills at their convenience.
Individual patients also benefit by receiving timely and accurate information on disease prevention, and early intervention. Mhealth_Burkina is now deployed in nine regions and twelve health districts.
Digital technologies are helping Burkina Faso to make economic gains from gender inclusion in peripheral spaces. Today, the maternal mortality rate and the number of deaths among children under five years of age have both been cut by fifty per cent.
These advances are notable although Burkina Faso remains among the top ten countries with the highest number of malaria cases and deaths with children and pregnant women most at risk.
In the West Indies, peripherality indices along with digital technologies have been key to unravelling climate-associated risk and resilience. Studies of heritage sites have enabled conservationists to gauge how vulnerable a built structure is, and what may be required to protect it.
Brent Fortenberry, Professor of Architecture, has captured images of the built environment in Bermuda and Puerto Rico that are under threat from atmospheric rivers, floods, unseasonable weather, and rising sea levels.
The images collected will be used to build a database that is partitioned using “elevation scores” for buildings at risk of floods and “condition scores” that capture information on the structural integrity of the buildings.
When combined, a measure of the vulnerability of a heritage building emerges. This in turn will lead to strategies to protect peripheral sites and structures.
“Resilient Heritage Trinidad and Tobago” is a project led and implemented by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago in collaboration with the Craig Group, and the University of Florida Historic Preservation Programme (UFHP) and funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, through the US Embassy, POS.
Dr. Sujin Kim from the University of Florida used lasers and drone technologies to generate 3D scans of the built environment, and the contours and landforms of Nelson Island. The scans show the landforms around the buildings, the heights of the buildings, and the interiors of the structures.
These scans will be used to build a climate change risk profile model of the island, and a mitigation strategy to protect the buildings from the effects of climate change.
A solar-powered system on Nelson Island provides electricity for lighting, security systems, data communications, appliances, and a desalination plant produces all of the potable water required for use on the island.
A Digital Twin or virtual replica of the buildings and all associated technologies, systems, equipment, sensors, and actors can take advantage of data streams from individual building components to provide practical support for everyday operations.
The core-periphery paradigm has been built as a model of opposing polarities – a pitting of the development potential of central places such as global cities and national metropolises against sparsely populated areas like islands, mountainous topographies like Mont Le Croix in Trinidad, and Castries in St. Lucia, where the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception consecrated by Dunstan St. Omer’s black divinity genuflects to a leafy green Derek Walcott Square.
Unhappily, numerous peripheral structures around the blue rim of the Caribbean Basin echo a hopeless history of inherited inequality and intergenerational immobility.
In economic geography, there remains much woolliness in clarifying spatial stigmatization, predetermined destinies, off-centre neighbourhoods, and identities of persons who reside in peripheries.
Although characteristically a geographical concept, “peripherality” today has blossomed into a model of spatial theory that loosely couples features of the production of space with economic development processes.