Saturday, 14 May 2016

How smart is Cork?


Creating a “smarter region” is the focus of a new collaborative initiative, Cork Smart Gateway, which launched this week. The aim of the Gateway is to develop the Cork region as an attractive place to live, work and visit by applying smart solutions and using technology to drive economic growth, improve public services and promote better engagement between residents, visitors and local authorities.

Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Nimbus Research Centre and Tyndall National Institute are the founding members of Cork Smart Gateway, and the collaboration aims to improve the quality of life for citizens of Cork city and county through the deployment of smart solutions to solve regional challenges.

Speaking at the launch, Cork Smart Gateway Chairperson Ruth Buckley said, “Working together with a shared vision of a Smart Region, the opportunity for Cork Smart Gateway to identify challenges faced by citizens in the Cork region and address these areas through technology, data analytics and the convergence of the Internet of Things is immense.

There is an opportunity to bring about real improvements in the lives of citizens living in the Cork region through innovation and collaboration in areas such as traffic management and transport, environmental detection including flooding as well as energy and waste management to mention just a few key areas.”

New survey research, conducted in Cork across representative and non-representative general public samples was presented at the event. The survey involved 3,600 respondents and includes information from senior citizens, young people and local authorities. The findings, which will contribute to the first dataset of citizens conducted in Cork to give a 360 degree view of citizen’s perceptions, delivered some interesting results, including public opinion on collaboration, practice of civil rights and shared goals. 62% of respondents felt that they did not have enough opportunity to participate in local decision making, while almost two thirds felt that citizens could have a big or moderate impact on making Cork a better place to live through such participation.

Respondents ranked Sustainable Jobs as most important to Cork’s future, with Health and Wellbeing coming second, followed by Safe Public places in third place and education opportunities in 4th place. When it comes to Smart projects in Cork, 80% of citizens were aware of the bike scheme, followed by broadband networks (45%).

In terms of communications, 58% of respondents surveyed used their mobile phone most, with 43% using email most and 33% and 32% using Apps and Text respectively. Post recorded the lowest communication usage with 8.5%. 77% of respondents said that they would use a smartphone app designed specifically for Cork.

The Cork Citizen Engage research was conducted by the International Energy Research Centre (IERC) and presented by Long Pham. The collaborative partners, Mike Hayes of Tyndall National Institute and Dirk Pesch of Nimbus Research Centre also addressed the audience of more than 175 attendees at the launch in “Ireland’s Smartest Building” at One Albert Quay, Cork.

Citing the Irish Government’s “Getting Smarter about Smart Cities” Report published in January 2016, Cork Smart Gateway Program Manager Claire Davis said, “A smart region is one that utilises e-government, publishes open data and fosters an open data economy, creates citizen-centric dashboards, encourages citizen participation, enables urban testbedding, actively nurtures start-up companies and accelerator programmes, promotes the use of ICT in education programmes, and actively leverages the technologies and data to create new synergies, especially cross-sectoral approaches that break down departmental silos.”

She added that “The Cork Smart Gateway initiative would undoubtedly enhance the lives of citizens and visitors in Cork, through a smart approach to living, working and participating in the Cork region.”

Various smart projects are already in operation across the Cork region, including a flood detection system in Bandon which uses tactically located sensors to gauge rising water levels, Cork’s local authorities e-government initiatives, the LED Lighting replacement scheme on islands off the Cork coast and a cloud energy management system which will deliver significant savings while reducing energy usage. For more information on these and other programmes, please see www.corksmartgateway.ie