Limerick today went where no other has gone when it became Ireland’s first ‘Digital City’ as the centre of the Smart Limerick City Region in an initiative to assist in the promotion of it as a top international destination for investment, innovation, equal opportunities and a better quality of life.
In the latest initiative under the Limerick 2030 An Economic and Spatial Plan - the blueprint that has guided the economic renaissance of the city and county over the past five years - the strategy, launched this morning (Monday), is seeking to take advantage of digital technologies and transform the way people access information, education and digital services and improve the way local businesses trade in the digital economy. The strategy will see an increase in the use of integrated data and cutting-edge digital technologies by enhancing collaboration between organisations, access to information and education at local and regional level and an increased investment in digital and ICT infrastructure. It will enable the public and businesses to have equal opportunities and harness the potential of the Digital Economy valued globally at $21 trillion.
The Limerick Digital Strategy joins up the digital and smart cities agendas for Limerick, setting out the vision for the Smart Limerick City Region in 2030 and guide Limerick to a new level of digital maturity. To achieve this vision, it will create equal opportunities through digital channels for all citizens to be involved in the development of their communities and accelerate the development of the Smart Limerick City Region.
Among the key targets for the strategy are to double the number of online services, digital start-ups and SMEs trading online, double the use of data for more effective city and county management and the development of 1,000 smart homes, 100 smart buildings and a smart energy district. It is about enabling a Smarter Living in Smart Limerick.
In this digital transformation journey the first step was to develop Limerick.ie into a digital marketing platform with integrated information about what Limerick has to offer.
To better serve the public, a digital transformation programme of the Council has also been initiated in 2017.
The strategy will continue with the development of digital infrastructure, fibre connectivity, Public Wi-Fi, Smart CCTV for safer communities and support for the National Broadband Plan; the development of 50 new online services and applications to support innovation and transformation of services and work practices across organisation and communities supported by 6 programmes of digital skills.
It will enhance the use of data with over 100 datasets to be provided in a new service called Insight Limerick which will allow the public to understand more about their city and county services.
The data for this service will be provided by hundreds of sensors deployed across city and county for air, soil and water quality and water levels, pedestrian counting and noise monitoring. The entire strategy involves the local people and communities taking an active role in the co-development of new, innovative services.
Speaking at the launch, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr James Collins said: "Today marks another major leap forward for our great city and county. 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."
Also speaking at the event, Patrick O'Donovan, Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, said: "The past two decades have seen advances in digital technologies that have changed the world. With the launch of this strategy, Limerick will be at the forefront of this 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."
Head of Digital Strategy at Limerick City and County Council, Dr. Mihai Bilauca, described the strategy as a new era for Limerick. "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."