NEWRY CITY BECOME EIGHTH MEMBER OF ALL IRELAND SMART CITIES FORUM
The All Ireland Smart Cities Forum (AISCF) are delighted to welcome Newry City as its newest member of this all-island community of practice. The Forum continues to focus on improving service delivery through maximising the potential of new and emerging technologies. Newry, granted official city status in 2002, is represented on the Forum by Newry Mourne and Down District Council, the third largest Council in Northern Ireland providing services to 171,533 residents.
Newry City has a proven and established track record as a great place for business and trade on the island of Ireland, due to its unique geographical position between Belfast and Dublin. Key assets in the City include a strong presence of the FinTech sector, Manufacturing, Health and Public Sector. The growing presence of professional services also plays a key role in the economic development of the city. The Council is currently in the process of reviewing how it undertakes and delivers services to its residents, businesses and visitors. This includes exploring the use of new and emerging technologies such as IoT, 5G, Open Data, AI and Immersive technologies (AR/VR) to improve systems and processes to deliver and protect services for the future.
The City and its hinterland are also well known for the extensive coastline, and areas of outstanding beauty. Currently, the Council’s Tourism Department are working on a project in conjunction with Tourism NI to develop Augmented and Virtual Reality trails in key locations across the district. The project will allow visitors to connect emotionally through immersive experiences but also benefit the Council and Tourism NI through enhanced visibility of the area and analysis of visitor engagement. In the longer-term, this project, and the technologies supporting it, will be used a testbed to capture the movement of tourists across the district using IoT, Public WiFi and real time visitor data.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council are also leading on the collective bid being put together by all Councils in Northern Ireland (except Belfast City) to create and build the Full Fibre Northern Ireland Consortium (FFNI) under the LFFN Wave 3 challenge. This bid aims to deliver full fibre connectivity to 880 council and school sites by March 2021 and represents Phase 1 of a proposed longer-term programme of fibre related investment.
In welcoming Newry City to the Forum, Prof. Brian Donnellan, Chair of the All Ireland Smart Cities Forum, said “We are delighted to welcome Newry to the Forum. They bring a wealth of understanding that the others cities can tap in to and exploit. Two particular strengths that they offer the Forum are: firstly, they represent a large cross border functional region on the Dublin-Belfast Corridor – the largest economic agglomeration on the island of Ireland and a recognised regional growth enabler under the National Planning Framework (NPF); and secondly, they are very familiar with the processes of international cooperation, and the effort required to make collaboration work”.
Speaking on behalf of the Council, Michael Foster, Business Intelligence Officer with Newry Mourne and Down District Council, and Council representative on the AISCF said “Newry City embraces the opportunities offered by smart technologies in improving both the effectiveness and efficiencies of service delivery to its citizens. Technology will continue to disrupt how we live and work. Through the Forum, we are excited to further explore the opportunities offered by new technologies in collaboration with the other member cities, North and South. We have a particular interest in exploring the application of emerging technologies in SMART Tourism, SMART buildings and Connected Health programmes through the AISCF”.