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Smart Docklands: Ireland's pioneering smart city programme

Ireland | Tom McClellan on May 23, 2018

2017 was a record year for the Dublin office market. So, it’s no surprise that there’s no shortage of developers investing in and breathing new life into the Irish capital.

However, one area that is well and truly establishing itself as a digital leader in the market is Dublin Docklands, with the Smart Docklands initiative creating Dublin’s first smart city district. Spearheaded by Dublin City Council (DCC) and Trinity College’s ‘CONNECT’ Centre, the docklands have become a testbed for future innovation.

The numerous new developments are able to take advantage of a wide range of connectivity solutions, modes of transport and smart technologies to deliver a superior experience to the tens of thousands of people that live and work in this thriving business district.

But as rolling out “smart technologies” alone does not make a smart city, what does make this scheme so exceptional?

Collaboration for innovation

Thanks to the great number of global tech companies that reside in Dublin’s docklands, the scheme boasts an enviable ecosystem of partners that are helping develop the Smart Docklands into an attractive, thriving part of the city.

A testbed for innovation, the programme harnesses the invaluable insight from within tech giants like Google, Cisco and Huawei, smaller start-ups including Pervasive Nation and GoCar, property developers, local resident groups, universities and research centres.

Humanising tech

A fundamental principle of the Smart Docklands is to avoid rolling out “tech for tech’s sake”, which is a trap that many smart city programmes have previously fallen into. Songdo in South Korea - which delivers intelligence without individuality - and Masdar in the UAE - which takes the freedom of choice down to a carefully defined menu – have demonstrated the importance of balancing technology and “soul” when designing a smart city.

Smart cities can’t feel too optimised, as it risks creating a cold environment without character. Understanding this challenge, the Smart Docklands have engaged with over 130 different stakeholders to workshop the challenges that can be effectively addressed with smart city solutions without limiting the human experience. 

Solid connectivity foundations

Connectivity underpins all smart city solutions, with the great number of devices and the low latency that many require demanding a vast range of different connectivity solutions. The Smart Docklands already have full coverage of three Low Powered Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), alongside cellular coverage, Bluetooth, Satellite, NFC and WiFi solutions.

A further investment by the City Council in rolling out a dark fibre network will also empower the Smart Docklands programme to test and scale a wide range of Internet of Things based solutions.

A roadmap for smart cities

The Smart Docklands project is not just laying the groundwork for an exceptional digital district in Dublin, it is quickly establishing itself as a roadmap for how cities in Ireland – and across the world – can start testing and rolling out smart technologies to create intelligent, soulful cities that people will want to live and work in.

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