“Technology is a tool, not an end in itself – it is truly successful when it draws out on-line engagement into the real world.”
YDYV, Panel Member
In 2012, Dublin City Council asked the citizen panel of the city region to outline how it believed we could collectively make Dublin digital. Your Dublin Your Voice is now a citizen engagement panel boasting almost 4,000 panellists. A total of 1,813 valid survey responses were received for this survey. The internet and the advent of social media have changed the way society and government interact and the City Council as the custodians of Your Dublin Your Voice (YDYV) are eager to utilise citizen opinion as much as a possible in policy and thought formation. YDYV is the first step in giving power to the people. In the case of this survey “Making Dublin Digital” the following headline results were used to shape the formation of the Masterplan.
- 97 per cent of respondents had internet access at home.
- 95 per cent of respondents reported using the internet everyday
- 99 per cent of respondents owned a mobile phone. 60% of these owned a smartphone
- 23 per cent owned a tablet and of these well over half (61 per cent) had purchased their device in the last twelve months
- 52 per cent of those with internet access at home indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the affordability of their home internet connection
- 84 per cent of respondents indicated that they have used some form of government website to access information for personal reasons
- 80 per cent of respondents had visited a local authority website
- 72 per cent of respondents communicated with friends or family every day or most days via email. 31-45 year olds at 77 per cent were the most likely cohort to use this mode to contact friends or family every day or most days
- 46 per cent of respondents used social media to communicate with friends or family every day or most days, with 53 percent usage amongst females compared to 38 percent amongst males
- Significantly, 70 per cent of 18-30 year olds use Facebook as a communication device to friends or family every day or most days
- 87 per cent of respondents would use an App which will allow them to engage with city region authorities and report on city issues, services and events
- Access to a laptop, smartphone or tablet tended to increase with a respondents level of education
- 75 per cent of respondents indicated that they accessed the internet on the move or in a public place
- While 52 per cent of respondents indicated that buying from Irish sites or retailers was important or very important to them 65 per cent of respondents indicated that they found it difficult to find Irish sites selling the products or services they want
- 92 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Digital online services such as banking, revenue services, paying motor tax online and real time bus information make my life a bit easier, free up my time to do other things and save me money”.
The survey results which were highly informative have been used directly and indirectly to inform thinking and actions behind the Masterplan:
- Citizens are very engaged as users of digital gateways such as Smartphone’s and PC’s.
- Accessing the internet and on the move communication is an arterial information flow which is critical to the urban citizen, tourist and business.
- Irish businesses do not have a sufficient online presence. As part of its enterprise and digital business remit the Dublin local authorities have the responsibility to continue the work of Local Enterprise Offices, the Digital Hub and local business interests to get more business online, to work within existing initiatives, to share resources and best practice and to stimulate local economies through digital interaction and promotion.
- Creating the digital city will evidently build a real belief amongst citizens that their quality of life is improving. This in turn makes the city region more attractive to investment and talent.
- Social media is big business and it is clearly incumbent that practitioners in public service utilise this resource to maximise efficiency and levels of communication both internally and externally with citizens and other bodies.
- Citizens have a keen desire to know what is happening in their city and to value their societal shareholding in the city. Information on events, places and points of interest and services are important to them.
- While a small majority of citizens are happy with their home broadband a quick horizon scan reveals an emerging digital divide where certain areas, segments of society and business sectors (such as the creative industries) will either not have access to sufficient download or upload speeds. This divide will potentially lead to inequality in the workforce. According to a Silicon Republic Report in 2012, Ireland’s digital divide has arrived. New jobs being rolled out in Ireland by companies like Apple and Amazon for customer support agents to work from home precludes people who have anything less than 5Mbps download speeds and 1Mbps upload speeds. 6 in 10 workers are expected to work from home some or all of the time by 2016.