The city of Dublin is to be developed as a world centre of digital excellence as part of a technology master plan, which will be rolled out next summer.
Preparations for the comprehensive strategy, which aims to make Dublin a leading digital city, are already underway according to Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí, who said he could no longer wait for national government action around a digital strategy for the country.
“Dublin cannot wait for national government action. 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,” he said.
The digital master plan will provide a framework to enhance the city’s engagement with citizens, increase citizens’ access to new technologies and promote the tech industry.
“Dublin has a good reputation for software and technology. The city has a pretty good name in digital terms but I think we can do better.
“Broadband penetration is not what it should be in some areas of the city. The same goes for urban wifi areas.”
Another digital problem in the city is the positioning of government websites, according to Peter Finnegan, director of international relations, economic development and research at Dublin City Council.
Most government websites including those of the city council are done from a government point of view and don’t engage with citizens, he said.
“We want them to speak to the citizens’ needs instead. They’ve done this with great success in the UK revamping the UK government websites.”
Mr Ó Muirí said there were a plethora of initiatives already taking place around the city, but no single plan to link and drive them.
From big data to energy conservation to citizen engagement, Dublin is already proving its capacity to develop intelligent and smart solutions to urban challenges using technology, according to Mr Ó Muirí.
The master plan would provide a common focus for these initiatives but would also use international best practice and citizen opinion to push for major new initiatives that would create an “everywhere digitally connected and sustainable city, from home to workplace, from streetscape to public park and from healthcare to education”.
He said that while the coming months would allow for consultation on what shape the master plan should take, they would more importantly allow for actions that could demonstrate how digital technology can transform the city and the lives of its people.
A starting point would be the evaluation of the current state of “digital maturity” within the Dublin City, which Intel and NUI Maynooth have committed to doing, he said.
Meanwhile, TCD and Intel will be exploring new approaches to citizen engagement for the plan.
“It’s not a high-falutin talking shop. We’ve put together a group called the Dublin Digital Forum to help us come up with the digital master plan. The forum consists of companies and academic institutions but will accept contributions from anyone.”
He said the council was also looking into creating digital adventure spaces in public parks that would allow young people to interact and engage with the outdoors and play while using interactive approaches.