Government renews support for regional digital projects

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Autism-focused pilot schemes among local authority-led digital initiatives

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4 February 2019 | 0

Minister for Rural & Community Development Michael Ring and Minister of State at the Department of Rural & Community Development Sean Canney today announced additional funding of €246,294 for eight local authority-led digital initiatives.

The Digital Innovation Programme provides funding for original and innovative local authority led digital projects which benefit the community, allowing them to be piloted before they are scaled up or replicated around the country.

The latest phase of the Programme will fund projects in Wicklow, Donegal, Fingal, Cork City, Kildare, Mayo, Offaly and Clare.

“The Programme supports local authority led projects that demonstrate clear potential for public benefit and that can be scaled up or replicated elsewhere,” said Minister Ring. “The response to the latest call for applications under the Digital Innovation Programme was particularly strong. The projects that were submitted bear testament to the level of creativity and innovation in Ireland’s communities and within our local authorities. Successful applications range from an Internet of Things project in Donegal to infrastructure projects in Kildare and Mayo, digital familiarisation training for older people in Clare and research into digital approaches to social housing allocation in Cork, all focused on using digital resources to provide a public benefit.”

Speaking about the value to communities of these initiatives, Minister Canney said: “The Digital Innovation Programme is designed to support and encourage imaginative uses of technology for the common good. For example, the Creative Ability Hub in Fingal will provide employability training for people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and will build connections between job-seekers and those employers that value analytical and creative abilities. Employers will be able to provide mentoring and coaching and the hub will also facilitate specialist training for employers and employees. The potential benefits for the hub’s users are significant, as are the benefits for employers.

“Wicklow County Council will be producing familiarisation videos that will assist people with learning difficulties, autism, physical disabilities or anxiety concerns before visiting their offices. These videos will be available on the Council’s website and will encourage and support the public to access local authority services. Another project will see the use of robotics in primary schools in Offaly, stimulating interest in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and supporting STEM education.”

Minister Ring added: “These projects follow on from thirteen projects approved under the Digital Innovation Programme in 2018 and brings the value of funds granted under the scheme so far to more than €700,000. The potential future savings that will come from piloting these initiatives ahead of large scale rollout are significant, as are the immediate benefits for many people across Ireland.”

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