Minister Ring announces over €450,000 for 13 pilot initiatives to benefit communities through digital technology

Thermal imaging pilot project in Galway City could help save lives around River Corrib
Published 2 November 2018

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, today (Friday) announced funding of €453,800, under the Department’s Digital Innovation Programme, for thirteen digital initiatives that will support rural and urban communities.

The Digital Innovation Programme, introduced this year by the Department of Rural and Community Development, provides funding for original and innovative local authority led digital projects, allowing them to be piloted before they are scaled up or replicated elsewhere in the country.

The Digital Innovation Programme will fund projects in Galway City, Donegal, Dublin City, Sligo, Offaly, Kerry, Tipperary, Fingal, Wicklow, Mayo and Westmeath.

Speaking today, Minister Ring said: “These projects will be undertaken in rural and urban settings and will place the needs of the citizen at the heart of digital innovation. For example, the Programme will support a pilot project in Galway City which uses thermal imaging technology to detect persons entering the River Corrib at known blackspots. An automated early warning system will alert local services so that assistance can be provided if required. The project has the potential to save lives in and around the River Corrib and, if successfully replicated elsewhere, could further advance water safety in Ireland.

“Another project will provide mobile phone coverage for the first time for the town of Malin Beg in Co. Donegal, through collaboration between the local community, county council and industry.

“These initiatives address a diverse range of issues, but are all linked by the innovative use of digital technology and infrastructure to bring real, tangible benefits to local communities. The creativity and collaboration that has gone into their design is highly impressive.”

Minister Ring continued: “Other projects seek to preserve local heritage and promote sustainable tourism. For example, free WiFi connectivity will be provided on 71 kilometres of the Grand Canal Greenway, as it runs through Co. Offaly. This initiative will further support cycling tourism in the county and promote the attractions along the Greenway.

“Solar powered Smart Benches being piloted in Fingal in Dublin will enable people to charge their devices and surf the internet wirelessly while they take a seat.

“The projects being announced today build on an initial five projects approved under the Digital Innovation Programme in September. The lessons learned from each of these projects will be shared with other local authorities, allowing each initiative to be scaled up or replicated effectively and efficiently.

“I wish the local authorities well with their projects and look forward to celebrating their successes. I hope to announce further approvals under the Digital Innovation Programme in the coming months.”


Notes to editors:

The projects to be funded under the current award are:

Project Local Authority Award
EuroVelo Route 1 (EV1): Smart Technologies for Rural Tourism (Sligo, Donegal & Leitrim) Sligo (lead) €75,000
Smart Street Furniture Fingal €72,000
Cemetery Digitisation Westmeath €53,000
Erris History and Folklore Digitisation Project Mayo €50,000
Free public WiFi – Grand Canal Greenway Offaly €40,000
Mobile Coverage Blackspot at Malin Beg, Co Donegal Donegal €35,000
Development of Wild Atlantic Way “Digital Discovery Points” Kerry €32,000
Shared Telecommunications Infrastructure and Co-Development Sligo €30,000
River Corrib Thermal Image Monitoring – Water Safety Initiative Galway City €24,000
Ireland’s Road to 5G: Accelerating Deployment Across Irish Towns and Cities Dublin City €24,000
Sign of the Times – application development Tipperary €8,000
Report / Survey re: Precision Farming Tipperary €6,000
Where in Wicklow Wicklow €4,800

More in depth information on each of these projects is available here.

The Digital Innovation Programme is an initiative of the Department of Rural and Community Development. It is designed to encourage local authority led projects that support digital development. These projects must promote, support, or otherwise advance at least one of the following seven pillars:

  • Digital Skills
  • Infrastructure
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Digital Economy & Employment
  • Digital Services
  • Community & Culture
  • Digital Transition

Projects that cut across more than one of the pillars are particularly welcome.

These projects will provide innovative digital solutions to local issues, help to establish or enhance digital / telecommunications services, and support the development of local economies.