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20 December 2011
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Why Dublinked?


We live in a city, representative of modern cities across the world having high concentrations of human activities, and facing a variety of universal challenges in managing infrastructure, optimising resources & providing better services. Cities, and Dublin is no different, generate very large volumes of data centered around the interactions of its citizens within the city environment. Some of this data is generated by the local authorities, some of it by private companies delivering services in the city (taxis, collecting rubbish, retailers), and more is generated by us the residents of the city (tickets on the Luas, purchases, mobile phones, entertainment events). Within such an environment, there are opportunities for better services, less waste, and new opportunities for people to interact with the city - whether it be how to navigate the public transport networks or in discovering the latest in-nightclub. Dublinked has been created to harness this rich resource of information, and to combine it with people who want to be innovative, to be creative, to think about new ways to do things in cities. Dublinked will bring together the experts working at the coal-face, have them explain the challenges they are facing - whether it be in delivering water during a deep winter freeze or ensuring the traffic keeps flowing - and see if fresh eyes and innovative thinking can find new solutions. These are not solutions just for Dublin. 

Dublinked Coordinator, Dr Ronan Farrell of NUI Maynooth said "Innovation is driven by sharing experiences, of problems to be solved, and of capabilities that can be developed. This philosophy of innovation is at the heart of this initiative. The Dublin Local Authorities are offering a unique level of access, giving us opportunities for research and collaboration not previously available." 

There are many legitimate reasons why not all data can be released for free and to the public. There may be issues of confidentiality, security, or commercial sensitivities, there may technical issues, and there is the point that the most valuable data is often valuable because someone invested a lot of money in collecting it. These forms of data are often the most valuable for the creation of new services, and Dublinked is focussed on making this data as accessible to as many people and companies as possible for the purposes of research and development. This creation of a pool of high-value data for research purposes, in combination with all the normal "open" data, is unique in the world and will give Dublin-based companies a significant advantage.

Technology and data is only one part of the equation, people are the greater part. Dublinked will be hosting a number of thematic workshops on a range of topics. Initial ideas are in the areas of transport, water, the marine, waste, energy, health and social issues. We will take the lead from our members and support their interests. These workshops will be available to members and where needed, the Dublinked team will pursue the data needs to fully explore these issues. 

As part of facilitating engagement with as many companies and individuals as possible, and in an equitable fashion, Dublinked will act as a structured engagement mechanism with the Dublin Authorities. This could be to request collaboration on a trial project that requires city facilities (say street lighting), to seek specific data and expertise on some aspect of the city (say water network management), or to hear what challenges and opportunities the city authorities need addressed. To this end, the Dublin Local Authorities will use Dublinked as their main vehicle to announce calls for collaboration and to identify partners with appropriate skills and expertise for collaboration and research projects.

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