Innovation Profile: Dublin City Council: Dublin’s Digital Master Plan which will set a roadmap for the city’s journey to becoming a global centre of digital excellence is set to by unveiled at the end of June. The digital master plan will provide a common focus for a variety of smart technology initiatives while benchmarking the city’s adoption and use of digital technologies against international best practice.
According to Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó’Muirí the master plan will be modelled on similar digital development plans already in place in New York, Barcelona and London with the idea of promoting initiatives to create an “everywhere digitally connected and sustainable city, from home to workplace, from streetscape to public park and from healthcare to education.”
Launching the concept at the Digital Dublin Leadership Forum in Dublin’s Mansion House last November Ó’Muirí said: “Our future economic success, our ability to attract talent and investment and our competitive branding internationally mean we have to use and apply digital technologies now.”
The next major event on the road to the development of the master plan is Dublin Digital Day (DDD) which takes place this Friday.
“Digital Dublin Day is designed to demonstrate to Dubliners the impact that technology has on their lives and the potential of modern digital technologies,” says Peter Finnegan, director of Dublin City Council’s office of economy and international relations.
“It is designed to encourage innovation and creativity in the ways in which we envisage harnessing technology in the city,” he adds. “It is part of a series of activities that will lead to the publishing of our first ever digital master plan for the Dublin city. The master plan will mark the beginning of a relentless effort to ensure the city becomes and remains at the top tier of digital cities worldwide. Achieving this goal will ensure much increased economic prosperity for the Dublin city region and guarantee a greater quality of living for residents of Dublin.”
The Dublin Digital Day will be centred around the forecourt of the Mansion House where activities and events are planned including CoderDojo involving local schoolchildren; an “Apps for Fingal” display showcasing the use of Open data; the creation of digital stories using StoryMap; onsite blogging about digital in the city; techspace editing and displaying video interviews with citizens recorded on the day; and a special “vibes of Ireland” Twitter visualisation to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th.
“All businesses are being invited to display the Digital Dublin logo and promote their openness for digital in the city,” says Finnegan. “The message is ‘open to digital’ and any business with a digital interface or which uses technological tools is being asked to adopt this message.”
Finnegan is keen to point out that the master plan and the initiatives leading up to it are very much citizen centred and are aimed at making Dublin a better city to live and work in.
“We ask the people what they want through the Your Dublin Your Voice surveys. Among the things these surveys have told us is that people feel there is a need to rethink the way the Government organises its websites, that many Irish people aren’t able to find Irish firms to supply the goods and services they are looking for when they go shopping online, and many people would welcome a local government provided app that would provide information on the full range of services and events in the city. We want to make these surveys even better in future by using the free wifi service. At the moment we ask the questions but we now want the citizens to raise the issues that matter to them.”
And digital doesn’t necessarily mean computer technology. “It’s just a word which helps us focus on what technology can do for us,” Finnegan notes. “For example, we are looking at energy and the possibility of using the kinetic energy generated by people treading on footpaths to help power street lights. We are also looking at making Dublin a safer city. The city is already regarded as very safe but we have signed up to the UN agreement on safe cities for women and in this context we are looking at smart lighting which will intensify when someone moves closer to it as well as smart CCTV systems. But the master plan isn’t just about the City Council and our streets, it’s about every part of our lives and it involves 25 different organisations from the local government sector, business and education.”
The next major event in the run-up to the launch of the master plan will be the “Open Innovation 2.0: Sustainable Economy Society” conference in Dublin Castle on May 20th. This is a collaboration between the European Commission Open Innovation and Strategy Policy Group, Intel Labs Europe, Dublin City Council, Trinity College and many other stakeholders, organised in association with the Irish Presidency of the European Union, and is aimed bringing together thought leaders, senior decision makers, policy leaders, leading executives and social innovators to initiate a manifesto, platform and roadmap for sustainable economic and societal development.
“It is absolutely vital that we look to the social dividend as well as the economic benefits and this conference will help us address that issue,” says Finnegan. “We have a great opportunity to exploit digital technologies to improve the lives of our citizens and the Digital Master Plan is all about setting out the roadmap for realising that opportunity.”