Featured Article 10 Mar 2016

Ciarán D'Arcy
The Irish Times
Tuesday March 8th 2016

Dublin has the potential to be a world-leading city in a smart technology economy that could be worth €1.25 trillion by 2020, a conference was told today.

Tuesday saw the launch of Smart Dublin, a collaborative initiative between Dublin’s four local authorities which aims to engage with smart technology providers and researchers “to solve city challenges and improve city life”.

The concept of a smart city is one that sees the consolidation of abstract ideas such as the so-called Internet of Things, big data and environmental sensors to create practically applicable systems to bring about improvements in areas such as traffic management, flood detection and waste disposal.

According to Jamie Cudden, manager of Dublin City Council’s Smart City programme, a number of disparate smart projects have been in development across the county’s four local authorities over the last number of years, and Smart Dublin constitutes a concerted effort to consolidate this innovation and information for the betterment of the city.

“I think we’ve got all the right companies, we’ve got excellent research institutes, we’ve got open local authorities and engagement from all the right people so I think there’s a fantastic opportunity,” he told The Irish Times.

Corporate sector

Smart Dublin brings together stakeholders from the corporate sector such as Intel and IBM, universities including DCU and NUI Maynooth and local authorities.

Various smart schemes are already in operation across the capital, including a low-cost flood detection system pioneered by Kingspan which uses tactically located sensors to gauge rising water levels, and a smart bin project in Dún Laoghaire where waste disposal teams are automatically alerted when a bin is filled.

Anyone who has visited Croke Park over the last year has probably unwittingly contributed to its own mini smart city initiative, in collaboration with Intel, where sensors are placed at entrances to the ground to compile data on crowd and traffic flows.

Having begun life as a small start-up in Dublin over a decade ago, Paul McDonald’s Sonitus company, which uses sensors to collate data on noise pollution, has expanded to the UK and US and is about to begin operations in Cyprus and India.

“We developed it within the Dublin testbed which was a very friendly, very understanding environment that was non-commercial, to get our technology ready for that commercial deployment,” he said.

Software entrepreneurs

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to increase the prevalence of cycling in Dublin by 2020, technology and software entrepreneurs are being offered €100,000 in seed funding by Smart Dublin to develop innovative concepts in areas such as route mapping and security to help improve the attractiveness of cycling.

While admitting that data protection is always a consideration for projects which involve collecting environmental information, Mr Cudden said none of the schemes being implemented in Dublin at the moment stand to compromise anyone’s rights.

“The type of sensors we talked about today are monitoring river levels, rainfall, noise, air quality. They’re all types of environmental sensors which don’t impact on individuals.

“If we do start looking at other types of technologies we would always be taking the approach of having an opt-out for people automatically,” he concluded.

Content supplied with the permission of The Irish Times Ltd. For more see www.irishtimes.com

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