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Digital Dublin - a principled city

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan June 21, 2013
Summary:
Dublin's digital ambitions are now formalised in the grandiosely titled Masterplan document. But will the city's digital principles be enough to keep inward investment coming from the tech good and great?

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Dublin last week played host to the European Digital Agenda Assembly which saw 600 delegates from across Europe’s private and public sectors join forces with industry representatives from such as Google, IBM and Microsoft.

The assembly was the final event of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council.

It was also the launch pad for Dublin's own digital ambitions to be articulated in the form of the Digital Masterplan for Dublin.

There are seven key action points to the Masterplan

  • Provision of a minimum of 100Mb speed fibre broadband to every home in the Dublin region by Easter 2016. 
  • Development of a flagship Digital Accelerator District (DAD) programme to build on existing digital hotspots and initiatives in Dublin such as the Digital Hub.
  • Improved ways of working between multinationals and indigenous SMEs via partnership with SME representative organisations to develop a web based portal for Dublin based multinationals to auction packages of digital/innovation/R&D work to the local SME market.
  • An online ‘Dublin Storefront’ project to develop an online presence and the use of digital systems by Irish business complete with globally promoted digital ‘Created in Dublin’ brand.
  • The creation of a network of Digital Cities where ideas are generated and shared.
  • A commitment by Dublin City Council to make information in relation to all services ‘Available as Digital’ - not quite Digital by Default, but perhaps more pragmatic?
  • Commitment by local and national Government to establish programmes to support the development of digital skills in communities, government organisations, young people and adults.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí, said at the launch of the plan:

"We want to see Dubliners becoming ‘DigiDubs’ - digitally active and engaged citizens - who will submit ideas to shape the digital future for the city of Dublin.”

A fundamental element of the Masterplan is the development of the Digital  City Maturity Scorecard (DCMS), an analytical tool to benchmark Dublin’s digital performance internationally.

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The basic action points are pretty familiar and common to most digital government agendas.

What is interesting though is the creation of a ten point set of principles to which actions must adhere and against which Dublin will measure itself:

  1. Digital technologies are a facilitator of a more sustainable, cohesive and competitive city region
  2. Digital technologies are used to realise net job creation across the entire economy
  3. ‘Available As Digital’ will be the norm for all Public Services
  4. As a progressive open city, welcoming of everybody, all citizens should have opportunities for access to digital technologies
  5. That we will live by and act through open innovation, embracing a governance model which shares ideas, information and data between sectors, organisations, citizens and with other collaborating cities
  6. We will embrace digital governance and technologies to increase democratic participation and to stay connected with citizens
  7. The city and its stakeholders will use digital technologies, processes and design to continually improve its own performance in the delivery of services for the citizens and business
  8. Data(Open and Big) is a key element in developing Dublin as a Digital City.
  9. Dublin will be a virtual and physical testbed for innovation and will integrate digital technologies into spaces and places of the city
  10. Dublin will consistently future proof the infrastructure (eg broadband, power etc) required to keep it ahead of the global competition and attractive to inward investment.

Verdict

Ireland has done pretty well out of all things IT over the years. With a highly active inward investment agency working very hard, the republic has attracted some big tech names to set up in and around Dublin, Galway and the likes.

Most recently there's been a big pitch for the 'emerald cloud' with an openly stated ambition to make Ireland the most attractive place for US cloud computing giants to set up shop.  The likes of Salesforce.com, Google, Amazon and Marketo have all put down roots there already.

It's a nice country with good facilities, lots of open space, a skilled workforce - and frankly some rather tasty tax breaks for corporates looking for a European base.

Countering that, the Irish economy is a basket-case at present, a victim of the problems that have afflicted the Eurozone countries.

(Rather pitifully I'm told that one pitch put by UK inward investment officials to US firms is that the Irish are set to go bust! I've yet to hear of any firm that based an investment decision on that sort of negative promotion!)

The Dublin Digital Masterplan - we could have done without the grandiose title! - is a sound enough set of action points.

If the objectives of the plan are met, then the city will find itself well placed to continue to attract the technology good and the great to Ireland's shores.

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