Smart Docklands, a partnership initiative from Dublin’s four local authorities, is a test bed for projects along the banks of the River Liffey. The area is known for its Big Tech office occupiers, attracted to Ireland by the low corporation tax.
Google employs 8,000 people in the Docklands and has recently taken up more buildings, Facebook employs 5,000, Accenture has an IoT-focused building and Airbnb has placed its innovation hub there.
Speaking at PlaceTech Trend Talk Dublin, project manager Michael Guerin shared an update on the initiative’s activities.
Watch Michael’s full presentation here
- Smart Docklands started with getting the tech giants in a room, asking them what they were working on and how Dublin could work with them better. Other residents are also part of the network, including landlords and developers, tourism, hospitality and infrastructure representatives
- Programme is structured in three layers: connectivity and infrastructure the most important layer; engagement; and projects
- One project the group is focusing on is 5G. Guerin’s team engaged with a company called Dense Air in the summer of 2017 to look at gigabit speed connectivity in the city and how to use assets to deploy a 5G network. Smart Docklands has deployed 20 small cells on lamp posts to increase 5G connectivity. The idea of this network is instead of having one piece of equipment for every different operator, you can have one piece of equipment that propagates the signal of all operators
- There’s also a project deploying small cells indoors in buildings in the Docklands, working with partners IPUT and Hibernia REIT. The idea is to build up to Euro 2020, Uefa’s European football championships, working to deploy a 5G networking around fan zones
- The initiative has run 12 workshops, attracting 200 attendees, to provide residents and tenants with an understanding of what smart cities entail and how innovations will impact them, such as the BigBelly bins
- As a result of these workshops the Smart Docklands team compiled a list of 300 problems, which were broken down into 11 main themes
- To ensure relevant tech was being tested, Smart Docklands set up a mechanism called SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research). To date, nine challenges have been put out including cycling, flooding, wayfinding, illegal dumping and last man delivery. The group has worked with 42 startups and funded them just over £1.5m
- Another project was devised to predict flooding in Dublin, using low cost sensors, with batteries that last for 15 years, to try and forecast flooding, by sending small amounts of data about water levels. This data creates a network of rainfall, river level and water velocity information. This enables the Smart Docklands to potentially notify residents when they expect flooding in the area
- Flooding also happens on street when drains get blocked. Through SBIR, Smart Docklands is working with a company called Danalto to develop low cost sensors to alert when drains are full. This will hopefully enable Dublin City Council to know which drains are blocked and to unblock them before a large rainfall event happens
- BigBelly bins have a solar panel on the roof and the bin compresses rubbish, enabling the bin to contain around five times the volume. They also have a sensor to inform when the bin is full. Smart Docklands replaced 110 bins with the smart ones, and reduced waste collection in the Docklands by 87%
- Another project, on which Google partnered, featured a smart bike light which uses AI, to try and understand cycling in the city. The light flashes more when the cyclist brakes, alerting drivers and making it safer for the cyclist. There are also a number of sensors in it detecting road surface quality, which creates a heat map of good and bad road areas
- Some of the data coming back helps the Docklands understand how cyclists are reacting in the city, such as how long they’re waiting at junctions. Dublin City Council is investing heavily in cycling infrastructure and based on the data out of this project, the council is making two changes to their plans that they had for cyclists
- As part of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, the Docklands is launching the Cyclers app, to enable cyclists to choose the safest and greenest routes to cycle in cities
- The council has also installed 70 radar panels of around the City, which can detect 300 metres from the traffic lights to count and classify vehicles. The panels can determine whether it’s a bus, a cyclist, a pedestrian, a car, and determine what speed it’s going at. This is being used to prioritise cyclists
- Smart Docklands sees three main trends around energy, wellness and connectivity. Dublin last year was the fastest growing place in Europe for connectivity certification scheme WiredScore
- Dublin City Council put out a tender last year to build a 3D model of the Docklands. The council is now using the model to find pinch points for pedestrians and cyclists. One example is outside the convention centre, where Dublin City Council is exploring putting in a new pedestrian and cycling bridge. The model is being used with VR and AR to show citizens how these new bridges will look and gather feedback
- Smart Docklands opened up the 3D model for anybody to use at a hackathon in May. One idea raised was to use AR to look at different planning propositions in the city. If there was contention over a seven versus nine storey building, users could stand across the river, and using AR, see what the building would look like at different heights
- Dublin Fire Brigade is also using the AR app to better plan its responses, by understanding where alarm panels, hydrants, risers are before going into a building
- Smart Docklands is working with the British Council to understand how universities can play a role in Smart Cities
View the slides from the Guerin’s presentation on our SlideShare page.
Michael Guerin was speaking at PlaceTech Trend Talk Dublin sponsored by Mills & Reeve, Node, Bruntwood Works, PropTech Ireland and FUTURE:PropTech.