Smart D8 opens with call for health and wellbeing projects

Digital society initiative looks for insights on impact of Covid-19 on mental and physical health
Mary Day, CEO of St. James’s Hospital, and Orla Veale, Smart D8

10 March 2021

A new initiative to transform the health and wellbeing of citizens through innovation and collaboration has been launched.

Smart D8, will investigate how new and innovative approaches can be used to improve and sustain citizens’ health and wellbeing in Dublin 8. It brings together a consortium of experts in healthcare, academia, local government, and industry, and is being led by The Digital Hub, St. James’s Hospital, Smart Dublin and Dublin City Council.

The creation of a health innovation district in the area, that will provide a focal point for innovators working to develop product, service, or technology solutions, is another key element of the Smart D8 programme.




Smart D8 has conducted the first phase of research in advance of the launch to understand the current health and wellbeing needs in Dublin 8. The findings have been used to form the foundation of the project. Initial health and wellbeing themes identified in consultation with the community include mental health, the impact of Covid-19, population health, environment and positive & healthy ageing.

Results from a recent survey of Dublin 8 residents was in line with data from the Irish population as a whole; 82% of people were in very good or good health, with 40% taking regular exercise. However, 31% of the Dublin 8 community had a long-standing health problem, 27% had accessed mental health supports in the last two years, and 21% had unmet health needs due to waiting lists. A total of 68% of residents had advised that the pandemic has impacted their health and wellbeing negatively.

The research also identified services that might help deliver improvements in the sustainability of community health and wellbeing, with 61% of respondents saying they would use an allotment to growth fruit and vegetables if it were available, and 92% would use a recreational park for exercise if it was available to them.

The first call for Smart D8 pilot projects has also been launched and will focus on the three themes of mental health, population health and Covid-19 Impact. There will be additional calls for pilot projects throughout the project based on the needs of the community. The results of the pilots will act as a template for health and wellbeing management for the rest of the country.

One initiative that is already underway is the Healthy Ageing for a New Digital Society (HANDS) project that is using smart technology to support the care of vulnerable and elderly Dublin 8 residents living in social housing accommodation. The purpose of the project is to improve services and quality of life for social housing residents to allow them to remain in their homes for longer in line with the national Sláintecare policy. The project is a collaboration between the HSE, Dublin City Council, Smart Dublin, ESB, Maynooth University and technology partners Tata Consultancy. The HANDS project hopes to put Dublin 8 at the forefront of assisted living, and learnings from the project could help scale other approaches nationally.

“The Smart D8 initiative aligns with our strategic ambition to create a world-class health system around the St James’s Campus, with our designated Healthcare Partners, within an Academic Health Sciences Campus (AHSC) framework,” said Mary Day, CEO of St. James’s Hospital. “Dublin 8 is in a prime position to become the Silicon Valley of healthcare in Ireland and we are excited to see how this new collaborative ecosystem can help deliver on this potential and leverage the AHSC value of integrating the tri-partite mission of service, education and research/innovation for the benefit of patients, the community and the knowledge economy. Above all else, the formation of Smart D8 represents a real opportunity to transform the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Owen Keegan, chief executive of Dublin City Council, said: “Smart D8 joins other established smart districts in Docklands, DCU Campus and Sandyford where each of them works to a different theme, tailored to the local community and business sectors. Through our Smart Dublin programme, we have seen how this new model of collaboration can accelerate innovation with the right supports and partnerships.  We hope to see some of the best innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs get an opportunity to develop their ideas and grow new businesses in a way that can really benefit local communities and the needs of the district.”

Other partners within Smart D8 are the Guinness Enterprise Centre, HSE Digital Transformation, Tyndall National Institute, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Trinity Research & Innovation, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, National College of Art & Design, and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

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