Features and Analysis

City of Limerick: Finding a common language for smart city stakeholders

Dr Mihai Bilauca is Head of Digital Strategy, City of Limerick, Ireland. In co-operation with local stakeholders, his role is to lead the development of a strategy for how Limerick can best use digital technologies to support its economic, social and physical development plans and lay the foundation for Smart Limerick.

He comments, “We aim to build Limerick’s reputation locally, nationally and internationally as a digital ecosystem, where innovation and digital technologies empower our communities and create new opportunities for all in the knowledge economy.”

To help with this, Bilauca is using TM Forum’s Smart City Maturity & Benchmark Model as a key strategic planning tool. This model has been designed to capture the key aspects of a city’s transformation journey to become smarter.

It works from the following assumption, “A smart city is characterized by a high level of community and citizen engagement, by its attractiveness for businesses and by efficient and sustainable city operations based on insight from data.” The model allows a city to quickly assess its strengths and weaknesses in five key dimensions. It also helps the city set clear goals as to how it wishes to transform over the next two to five years.

Digital Champions Forum meeting in Limerick with researchers from IVI Maynooth, presenting the results of the benchmarking exercise

Limerick’s Digital Strategy framework has four focus points:

  • Empower communities through digital technologies – The first step for Limerick is to set up a citizen consultation platform, giving citizens the opportunity to directly contribute to the development of the city and region. For example, a €9 million project is now underway looking at the redevelopment of the main street in Limerick – the plans are available online and residents can provide information and feedback on them via digital channels.
  • Digital economy – “We aim to diversify our economy by providing support for innovation, start-ups, digital transformation, understanding and developing the local digital ecosystem and taking the relevant actions with a co-ordinated approach” comments Dr Bilauca.
  • Digital infrastructure – “We need to invest in ICT and digital infrastructure, especially in rural areas, in order to enable our citizens to access digital services and enable public service transformation initiatives,” Bilauca says. The National Broadband Plan, Public WiFi, Smart CCTV and IoT development using the Municipal Data Network are just some of the key infrastructure projects.
  • Smart Limerick platform – The city will launch the new Limerick.ie in 2017, an integrated information and marketing platform that promotes what Limerick has to offer to a wider audience. It includes ‘My Limerick’ which allows the public to access transactional services. Insight Limerick is a new service for data aggregation, analytics, visualization and access to open data. It will enable the public and the Council to make better use of data

TM Forum’s Maturity Model is helping Limerick stay on track towards these aims.

Dr Bilauca says, “The Maturity Model has allowed us to understand our current position and areas where further development is needed in order for us to reach a new level of ‘smartness’ and digital maturity. It allows us to understand our strengths and weaknesses and to see how we are doing in terms of use of data and in relation to leadership.”

He adds, “It brought clarity across stakeholders about where we are – for example, it showed us that we need to do more around transportation and integrating our ICT systems. We are doing quite well in supporting economic development and environmental practices.”

A common language

Beyond these parameters, though, Bilauca says the key advantage has been the opportunity to engage stakeholders and to develop a common understanding and language around what Smart Limerick really is.

Dr Bilauca explains, “The main benefit for us is that the core stakeholders now have a shared understanding of the Digital Limerick Vision and what the Limerick Digital Strategy sets out to achieve. This is critical for the successful collaborative development of Smart Limerick.”

The City of Limerick first ran the Maturity Model in September and will run it again around the same time this year to track progress. We look forward to seeing how the city develops.



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Sarah is a freelance writer and editor with an interest in new technologies and how they impact our everyday lives.

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