Published on in Innovation

Dublin has seen many significant periods of change and development throughout history. A city of 1.3 million people, it has seen decline and revival in almost equal measures and now faces an increasing pattern of change mounting as the city looks to the future.

Europe, and indeed the world, also face a multitude of changes and challenges. It is vital that Dublin grasps the opportunities of the future, to keep pace with well-designed cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Singapore who are primed to reap the rewards of what that future will hold.

More than keeping up on an international level, it is important for Dublin to do this in line with protecting the interests of its citizens, who are expected to number 2.6 million by 2050. Indeed, the core of Dublin’s long-term sustainability lies with its people.

The challenge for the business community is to collaborate and innovate now to build meaningful commitments so a future-proof solution exists for all.

People need place

For the people of Dublin to contribute to and benefit from a sustainable and smart future it is imperative that better planning is enacted in the housing sector.

Over the last 5 years, the capital has seen 75% of Ireland’s overall population growth with Fingal County accelerating fastest and, consequently, influencing other counties. Added to this is the fact that 44% of the urban population of Ireland now live in Dublin.

This growth is negatively reflected in worrying supply figures which are not keeping pace with demand; a challenge that will only worsen as we move toward Dublin 2050. There were less than 3,500 houses completed in the first 9 months of 2016, less than half the number required to address the current shortage.

With an extra 1.3 million people expected by 2050, it is clear that urban planning, housing planning and land use need to be effectively integrated.  Technology can unlock the full potential of the city with larger and more ambitious projects, rather than relying on cheap fixes to create short-term solutions to long-term problems.

The importance of space

With the projected increase in population numbers, there is a need to strive towards a more human-centric and intelligent city.

Citizens must be involved in the decision-making progress and it is important to note that urbanisation and the challenges which go along with it is not just an Irish issue. In fact by 2030 it is predicted that 60-70% of the world’s population will reside in urban areas.

For cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen this process of creating an intelligent, liveable space in reaction to growing population levels, as well as the potential for foreign direct investment (FDI), has already begun. Ireland attracts a considerable level of FDI in the technology sector, with €114 million invested from China alone in 2016, so it is important to ensure the development of an intelligent city which can keep pace with the needs of global business.

That process is one which must use innovation and must start now. For business, innovation must become a habit, so that the health of our city positively affects our client partners, our workforce and our own quality of life.

Collaboration at all levels

Co-operation and, more importantly, collaboration between government and business is vitally important in developing an intelligent and sustainable Dublin. Fujitsu not only recognises this but appreciates the scope of the task at hand.

Moving forward, the commercialisation of our R&D programmes in big data, e-health and sensor technology will be key to delivering Fujitsu’s vision of a human-centric intelligent society, a vision in which ICT supports innovative solutions to society’s problems whether by meeting the challenges of an ageing population through smart homes, or improving the connectivity of our cities into the future.

This is backed up by ongoing projects, particularly in Japan, pursuing the quest for smart cities. Given this experience, Fujitsu is well placed to provide Smart City, IOT and RFID solutions and can lead the integration effort as a partner with cities and local governments. Being a partner to both business, government and citizens is central to meeting the needs of a fast-approaching future.

In overall terms, Dublin’s sustainability plan can go a long way towards meeting the challenges presented by our ‘quick fix’ past. Participation and commitment are consequently crucial if the image of long-term sustainability is to be fulfilled.

The immediate challenge is for the business community to play their part and deliver towards a human centric approach. Only in this way will the health of our city strengthen and grow to be available for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations.

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Tony O'Malley

Tony O’Malley is CEO of Fujitsu Ireland and Chairman of the Fujitsu Ireland Limited board. He is leading the delivery of Fujitsu’s innovative ICT services to the public and private sectors.

As CEO, Tony is committed to creating value for customers and putting into practice Fujitsu’s vision to create a Human Centric Intelligent Society.

He also oversees significant research programmes in Ireland in collaboration with Fujitsu Laboratories Japan, in particular addressing Data Analytics and Healthcare systems for assisted living.

Tony sits on the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Council and is a member of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics Advisory Committee.

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