Limerick city to get smart and bridge digital divide

High-tech innovations can enhance daily quality of life

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh

Limerick city to get smart and bridge digital divide

Deirdre Kennedy, IBM Ireland, IBM Ireland general manager Peter O’Neill with Pat Daly Picture: True Media

THE IDEA of “heated seats” in public places should be considered, a top executive with Limerick City and County Council has said.

Speaking at the launch of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge report last Friday, Dr Pat Daly said that enhancing simple and high-tech innovations should be considered in order to improve the local quality of life.

Dr Daly commended IBM’s numerous recommendations, which aim to help the local authority to respond to the needs of the elderly through the use of shared information and technology.

Commenting on improving public facilities, such as digitisation of bus stop timetables, he said: “There should be good seating. And, maybe, there should be warm seating over the winter period. It’s lovely out today, beautiful and mild and sunny, but it’s still cold. If you sit on a bench, it is cold. So maybe heated seats are something of interest? It could be as simple as that, to being very, very high-level around data integration, and data and cloud services.”

Last May, five IBM experts conducted 45 interviews with a number of local stakeholders, over a three-week period, to deliver recommendations around key issues that affect the older generation in the technology age.

Limerick was selected as one of 17 cities, worldwide, to be part of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge.

Dr Daly said that the IBM report was “a very attractive project to look at”, in the context of the ageing population and the large number of people aged under 30.

“How do we use data and trends to do better things, to inform us, so that we are ahead of schedule, and not behind it? And that we are not reacting to incidents or crises that emerge on socio-economic basis, but that we are actually ahead of the curve. And this report hopefully puts us ahead of the curve,” he said at The Savoy.

Welcoming the report, Limerick Chamber of Commerce CEO, Dr James Ring said: “I think that there can be too much of focus on the here and now, whereas I would see this as planning for generations to come. It’s about ageing. It is going to happen to us all. And the businesses have a key role in this.

“And while the onus is on the council to lead, there is an onus on all the stakeholders in this region, including the Chamber and the businesses, to row in behind this and plan for a better future for our senior citizens.”

IBM Ireland’s corporate affairs manager, Deirdre Kennedy said that it is clear that stakeholders and agencies across the city and county are “improving the opportunities and lifestyle for its senior citizens.

“Limerick’s passion for its focus on the ageing population was reflected throughout the interviews the IBM team conducted and demonstrated an exceptional commitment to transparency, self-improvement, collaboration and innovation during our research.”

Some of the 15 recommendations include the development of a regional electronic medical record system, to allow people access their medical records and appointments; use of age-friendly technology; improve transport networks; and create a “master data system” to improve analytics for the provision of services.