DIT heads EU-funded citizen online access project


10 Apr 2006

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Dublin is one of three European cities taking part in a collaboration programme between city councils, universities and telecoms operators to develop a system for citizen access to city administration.

The programme is titled ICING — Innovative Cities for the Next Generation — and also involves Barcelona in Spain and Helsinki in Finland. It is being funded to the tune of €5m through the European Sixth Framework programme by the EU.

The aim of the project is to develop a prototype for effective online access to city administration. Special emphasis is being put on the information needs that arise when a city undertakes a regeneration project.

Each of the three participating cities in the project has designated a regenerative pilot area — in Dublin’s case, Grangegorman on the city’s north side — and each will work with residents in that community to try to match their requirements with the city council’s objectives in terms of online access to services and communications.

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has been selected as overall co-ordinator for the project, which will be managed by its Digital Media Centre, a facility that specialises in the research and development of digital technologies.

Dublin City Council, DIT and E-Spatial, an Irish company specialising in geo-spatial technology, have already begun work and are collaborating with the community to establish shared objectives in terms of developing new services and enhancing access to existing services.

According to John Donovan of DIT, it is envisaged that in the future citizens would be able to choose from a menu of services through various devices online and customise their communication with the city council according to their needs and interests.

Based on their location and expressed interests, the system should be designed to communicate relevant information in a way that suits them. This could be news of roadworks taking place in a particular area on certain dates; notification that a citizen’s waste disposal charges are due; or that a significant planning request for their area has been submitted.

By mapping traffic flows, it is believed that the city council could continually update infrastructural development such as bus corridors, park and ride facilities, pedestrian crossings, one-way routes or on-street parking. “ICING is about e-enabling communities and making city government more sensitive to the practical needs of citizens,” said Donovan.

Starting today, a three-day workshop involving representatives from each of the three city project teams, will be hosted by DIT. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Catherine Byrne, will welcome the project team members from the cities of Barcelona and Helsinki, as well as the programme’s local partners.

By Gordon Smith