Limerick Council launches masterplan to become Ireland's first 'digital city'

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Limerick launches masterplan to become Ireland's first 'digital city'

Dr Mihau Bilauca, Limerick City and County Council's head of digital, at the launch at Strand Hotel PICTURE: OISIN MCHUGH/TRUE MEDIA

AMBITIOUS plans are now in place to develop 1,000 ‘smart homes’, as part of a masterplan to transform Limerick into a “digital city”.

The newly-revealed three-year Smart Limerick strategy aims to boost online services, including eCommerce, public WiFi, technological innovations, and ‘smart communities’.

By 2020, Limerick City and County Council hopes to have 2,000 attractions, services, community groups and businesses and over 1,000 events will showcased on its limerick.ie website.

Ten digital public displays will be erected, and 100 sensors will be deployed to monitor a range of activities including footfall and air, water, soil and noise quality.

As part of the programme, the council’s website will create an emphasis on local film, history and sporting culture. The Smart Limerick plan also aims to benefit the world-renowned HearSay Audio Festival in Kilfinane.

The council aims to boost its electronic communication with the public through two initiatives; My Post Box and Ping Me.

My Post Box will give people the option to send and receive documentation for council services in electronic format, while Ping Me will enable users to receive notifications of significant events in their locality.

Infrastructural developments in Limerick will include the enhancement of public WiFi, the rolling out of 40 CCTV cameras, and connection of fibre network between districts in the area.

Innovative aspects of the strategy include collaboration between the council and the gardai for public safety enforcement, the development of the Digital Skills Academy, engagement with retailers to boost online platforms, Coder Dojo Limerick, and a healthcare activities.

University Hospital Limerick will liaise with the council on developing virtual clinics, whereby parents of children with diabetes can speak with a paediatrician via Skype in the city district. There will also be a tool for electronic referrals and electronic discharges.

The council is working with 28 stakeholders in the region in delivering the unique masterplan, says the council’s head of digital, Dr Mihai Bilauca. 

“This has been a very exciting and pioneering project to be a part of together with our partners in the Limerick Digital Leaders Network and supported by the most forward thinking management and staff in Limerick City and County Council.

“The collaboration and support that can be found in Limerick is second to none. We are in a digital age that offers enormous opportunities and this strategy will ensure Limerick can reap every advantage it offers. With the recent award of €6.5m in Horizon 2020 funding Limerick is now firmly on track to become the first Lighthouse Smart City in Ireland,” he said.

Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr James Collins said the launch marked “another leap forward” for Limerick.

“Limerick is setting new standards and this Digital Strategy is yet another example of the unprecedented economic resurgence taking place in Limerick. This strategy will support and accelerate this transformation by the use of integrated digital technologies, new online services, new channels of citizen engagement and participation, new collaboration and information platforms such as Limerick.ie. It is truly a digital transformation journey."

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said the new strategy will put Limerick “at the forefront” of the digital revolution.

“This is exactly the type of smart initiative to ensure the considerable momentum built up in Limerick over the last five years or more is continued.  This strategy will support both national and EU digital agendas, the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan, and accelerate other local plans and strategies through the use of digital technologies. It will especially underpin the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan.”