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Digital Ireland Network – Empowering localities to get the most from digital growth

Jobs, investment and happy home buyers are all economic measures which can help create the resources to make social goals more attainable in a rural community. Places that market themselves most effectively to remote workers stand to gain the most. For the past 5 years DigitalHQ’s Digital Growth Living Lab in Dun Laoghaire has worked as a testbed from a formerly vacant listed building for using digital tools and platforms in real life use cases involving user communities to co-create new ways of supporting the growth of communities and small businesses.

This work has helped shape a model for digital led regeneration which DigitalHQ call Digital First Communities. Digital First Communities use digital growth tools and techniques to increase footfall with a high capture rate, attract new innovation driven businesses and create sustainable jobs for places through digitally activating the key stakeholders, namely the locality, traditional businesses and innovation driven businesses.

DigitalHQ’s mission now is to share their model by becoming a trainer of trainers thereby empowering others to act locally. A pilot of the ‘Digital First Communities’ programme is commencing in July 2021 with Edgeworthstown, Blanchardstown Village, Mountrath, Edenderry and a location in Mayo.

What is proposed – Digital Ireland Network

To create a national network of digital first communities with the goal of advancing sustainable regional development and quality of life as the emergency created by COVID 19 recedes. The network will focus on mobilising digital first communities, with a ConnectedHub member at its heart, around leveraging the benefits of digital growth and submitting an entry for the national .IE Digital Towns Awards.

The proposed network will comprise two cohorts, founding member organisations and the localities themselves. Once the founding organisations are in place the goal will be to open membership to digital steering groups across the country, for example @digitalmountrath @digitaledgeworthstown @digitalblanchardstown. Membership will be free of charge.

“Remote working presents us with a once in a generation opportunity! With the ConnectedHubs initiative we will send out a message to the world that Ireland is leading the way in remote and connected working. Let’s change the narrative that you have to move to a city to get a good job by refurbishing interesting buildings as hubs to create sustainable jobs for our children."
Minister Humphreys
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