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Smart Docklands, a project funded by Dublin City Council and Trinity’s Connect Research Centre, is looking for pilot projects to address local needs using tech.

The Docklands have become somewhat of a microcosm for the rapid progress Dublin has seen since the 1990s, and today it features frequently in posters of the city thanks to iconic landmarks such as the Convention Centre, the Samuel Beckett Bridge and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Today, it is also the centre for a smart cities initiative that has turned the neighbourhood into a testbed for urban innovation.

Smart Docklands is a smart city programme funded by Dublin City Council (DCC) and Connect, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks based in Trinity College Dublin. Founded in 2018, the initiative describes itself as an “honest broker” between the government, universities and industry to make Dublin a “smarter” city by using technology to solve some of its problems – or just enhance the cityscape.

From 4G to IoT

Making Dublin a smarter city has been a priority for the DCC in recent years, a recent instance of which has been the Portal in the city centre that links local Dubliners to residents and visitors in New York. It also secured deals with OpenAI to leverage AI for smart tourism in the city. And just last week, the DCC published its first strategy on drone technology that will see the creation of a dedicated drones unit to oversee their use in emergency services and building inspections.

In general, there is considerable global interest in creating smart cities of the future. According to Statista, the smart cities market worldwide is expected to witness a significant revenue growth, projected to reach nearly $105bn by the end of this year.

DCC hopes that Smart Docklands can be the perfect testbed for the city thanks to its size, local ecosystem and connectivity. Darach Mac Donncha, programme manager at Smart Docklands, told SiliconRepublic.com that it all started as a connectivity testbed.

“It started as a conversation between Jamie Cudden, who is the DCC Smart City Lead, and Prof Linda Doyle, the provost of Trinity who at the time was director of the Connect research centre,” Mac Donncha said.

“It was about the city getting objective academic expertise about telecoms, primarily around the development from 4G to 5G. Since then they’ve hired a number of people and as time has gone on, they’ve developed from specifically connectivity testbed to IoT [internet of things] pilots and different IoT deployments.”

But its not all about the technology. Since Mac Donncha joined the project in late 2021, he said the engagement side of the initiative has grown legs.

“We do an awful lot of engagement in schools, both primary and secondary, with local communities and with local authority staff. In schools, that’s done through a thing called Academy of the Near Future to promote STEM courses, primarily in DEIS [underprivileged] schools, and trying to get higher female participation in STEM,” he explained.

“The idea is to teach them the importance of telecoms and technology in general, and maybe opening their eyes to the opportunities that might be in their future lives.”

Open call

Smart Docklands now has an open call for pilot projects focusing on a range of areas relating to smart cities: from environmental monitoring, urban greening and biodiversity to antisocial behaviour, safety and community development.

Similar to the Smart D8 open call last year, Smart Docklands is looking for people in academia, public and private organisations and local community members to apply with ideas that help address the local community’s needs.

“The themes for this call align with the focus of our existing engagement initiatives,” Mac Donncha said. “By providing a platform for innovation to thrive we’re hopeful that these pilots can help support wider community development, smart cities and climate action plans of both the DCC and Trinity College Dublin.”

Mac Donncha says that the call, which is open for applications until 13 June, is intentionally vague because the team is open to “anything and everything” in terms of ideas. A funding pool of €50,000 serves as an incentive.

“It’s been really welcoming that we’ve had a lot of interest for the project, even internationally,” he said. “It’s open to any individual person, public bodies, academia [and private organisations], and it’s about a product or service, or maybe even a workshop that they’re trying to implement, with up to €12,500 on offer.”

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Vish Gain

Quelle/Source: silicon republic, 07.06.2024

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