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To establish Dublin as a smart city we must strike a balance


Better public transport, city bikes schemes and car sharing are all contributing to changing patterns of travel for work and leisure

Better public transport, city bikes schemes and car sharing are all contributing to changing patterns of travel for work and leisure

Better public transport, city bikes schemes and car sharing are all contributing to changing patterns of travel for work and leisure

LOW-cost sensors, including those in mobile devices, are creating new possibilities for helping local authorities to manage cities. They help manage flows of goods and people through the city and help us react to unforeseen events in real-time.

Connected and situationally-aware infrastructure, part of the Internet of Things, will be in evidence all around us - street lighting that can dim as needed, drainage systems giving early warning of floods, sensors assisting those with accessibility issues.

And as the technology develops, innovations such as driverless cars become a possibility, creating new challenges for the city to respond to.

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Sensor data, combined with data that users choose to share, will help us increase quality of life and will create business opportunities. One element of this is Dublinked, an open data portal for the Dublin Region.

It hosts and shares data from our operations so that researchers and businesses can develop solutions to city challenges. We are also partners in the Dublin Dashboard, providing real-time information, indicator data and interactive maps about all aspects of the city.

The unique and multifaceted nature of Dublin's cityscape, combined with this open data approach, is attracting interest and investment from global organisations looking to test their technology. Dublin's indigenous tech sector is also benefiting from this approach and is being supported by the newly-appointed Startup Commissioner. While embracing these possibilities, we are keenly aware of our duty to prioritise the security and privacy of users' data.

While technology is changing how cities operate, global urbanisation is causing them to grow in size and in influence. Cities are competing with each other to provide the highest 'liveability' standards in order to attract tourists, talent and long-term investment.

We have key strategies to respond to this challenge, such as the City Development Plan. We also produce a sustainability report, which measures progress across the themes of economy, environment and society.

Buying on the internet is changing economic models, and may change how and why shoppers travel into the city. Technology is making it easier for people to work from home, while better public transport, city bikes schemes and car sharing are all contributing to changing patterns of travel for work and leisure.

The city is also facing pressures regarding energy and climate. We engage with climate initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors and the Carbon Disclosure Project and we work with government agencies in meeting national targets. We are engaged in an EU project on city resilience, Turas, to explore how we can use planning to adapt to future change.

We frequently partner with businesses and recently won an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge to evaluate solar power for council buildings, leading to a tender for solar panels on civic offices and public libraries. We recognise that one of the most cost-effective approaches is the energy retrofitting of buildings and we work with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland as an exemplar Sustainable Energy Community. However, in making these changes to the built environment we are careful to preserve our city heritage. Smart cities of the future may be highly efficient, but heritage will always be part of what makes Dublin unique.

Smart Cities is not an end unto itself, but is an integral part of making Dublin a more liveable city, with better environmental, social and economic sustainability.

It will help us with data-driven decision making and will allow us to evidence our progress at an international level; using tools such as the ISO37120 standard which ranks cities for sustainability. For those who want to get involved in meeting some of these city challenges locally, the Beta Project runs pilot projects involving residents and businesses.

Dublin is building a reputation as a smart city and we must strike a balance between innovation and governance as technological development accelerates.

In the business world, disruption is seen as a process of creative destruction, in the city we need to convert this into creative construction.

Mark Bennett is Dublin City Council Green Business Officer

Interactive Map

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The Residential Land Availability Survey map was created by drawing together zoning maps held by each local authority in the State.

Developed by the Department of the Environment, it sets out individual plots of land in towns, villages, cities and rural areas, and indicates the number of homes permitted on each site.

It took almost two years to develop, and provides planners and developers with an overview of the available land for housing.

It does not include land zoned for mixed-use development, which would generally include some housing provision. Nor does it include derelict sites.

The data is based on the situation as of March 31 last. Stage 1 land is considered not viable for development in the short-term because necessary services such as water are not in place. Stage 2 land has no major constraints. Not all the land has planning permission.


Irish Independent