herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Tech-savvy citizens and data will help develop city solutions

Solar-powered Big Belly bin
Solar-powered Big Belly bin

Dublin is poised to become a world leader in "smart" cities by using the city as a test bed for new technologies.

Smart City programme manager at Dublin City Council, Jamie Cudden, said the four local authorities were working together to develop innovative solutions to urban problems, which would be driven by data and tech-savvy citizens.

Smart Dublin is an initiative from the four Dublin councils - Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown - which is working with tech companies, researchers and citizens to improve city life.

adopters "Irish people are very tech savvy and we're quick adopters. Dublin is a great place to test new stuff before putting it out globally," he said.

"The type of challenges we face in the environment, like congestion, don't stop at borders. It's about planning and buildings and citizens.

"We all face the same challenges, it's a necessity that we think about how we operate our cities. From the city's perspective we don't have the expertise but we do have nine of the top 10 companies in the world, and universities. Cities are complex, it's about management."

Among the projects being worked on is the problem of street lighting. The local authorities spend around €3.9m a year on electricity bills. However, using smart lighting with more efficient bulbs, and which could be sensor-controlled and only illuminate when there is pedestrian or vehicle traffic, could reduce bills by 60pc.

monitors Bike stations could have environmental monitors for air quality, and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown has completed a pilot of solar-powered Big Belly bins which compact waste, and produce fewer odours.

Mr Cudden said that, in time, sensors could be mounted to public bins to measure footfall, while bus shelters could be wifi hotspots, with interactive screens powered by solar panels mounted on the roof.

The council is taking a new approach to these challenges, he said, going to the market and seeking solutions instead of specifying a particular product.

"It's now about saying 'here's our problem, provide a solution'. It's about broadening out that engagement and having a dialogue," he said.

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