top of page

How 'Digital First Communities' unite people behind their place for its future prosperity.

On 17 March 2022, at 10.30 CET, the European DIGITAL SME Alliance launched the Focus Group Smart Communities.

The Focus Group Smart Communities allows digital SMEs and Public Administrations from EU, national, regional and local levels to leverage the power of digital innovation to create sustainable and inclusive communities around Europe.

SMEs are, by definition, integrated into the local ecosystem.

DigitalHQ's project director was invited to be one of the opening speakers

I'm here today to share with you DigitalHQ’s vision for smart communities but firstly I would like to wish you all a Happy St Patrick’s day. Ireland’s national holiday has become an international celebration of the value of community, something that is much needed in these dark days in the Ukraine.

So back to today’s topic, the need that came from our local administration that we had to address with our solution was -

  1. To fill a high number of vacant buildings in our town,

  2. Low morale and poor digital usage amongst the local traditional businesses

  3. A way to attract innovation driven businesses and knowledge workers into the town centre was needed

The common thread in my personal work experience, from working on the London stock exchange to running Technology University Dublin’s Hothouse Incubation Centre, from building Novara Technology to Ireland’s second largest hosting company to delivering Ireland’s first national startup week, the Startup Gathering, has been the positive use of digital to accelerate and augment growth in a collaborative way.

So if we wish to empower localities to take control of their economic destiny at DigitalHQ we believe that sustainable local digital transformation, or digitalisation as we prefer to call it, is the route to achieve this. However, as the European DIGITAL SME Alliance has always said it requires an inclusive approach by technology providers, citizen engagement, and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.

So how did we achieve this in my home town of Dun Laoghaire? To talk about the genesis of our ‘Digital First Community’ model I will use the analogy of football.

If you are going to get a club up and running the first thing you would do is to map out and round up your stakeholders, these are your backers, volunteers, families that have playing kids etc. and get them all on the same page.

In DigitalHQ’s model we call this collaborative organising structure a ‘Digital First Community’ and just as you have a management committee at a football club a ‘Digital First Community’ is coordinated by a digital steering group, in our case it is called Digital Dun Laoghaire.

The 'Digital First Community' then acts as the focal point for the work to be done.

Now, you can’t play football without a pitch and a club house. This physical presence acts as the rallying point for your club. In our ‘Digital First Community’ we call the building that empowers a Digital First Community a 'Digital Growth Hub' ideally located in a vacant building in the physical heart of the locality. Its mission is to help the locality compete to attract investment, remote workers, home buyers, shoppers and visitors.

In a football match impact is about creating the maximum synergy between the home crowd and the home team.

In Dun Laoghaire we do this through collaborative digital campaigns Experience Dun Laoghaire, Love Dun Laoghaire and Why Dun Laoghaire.

Each campaign is mobilised through dedicated Whatsapp groups

Then on the skills development side the hub delivers training to local small businesses and social enterprises on digital transformation.

And finally in football you can’t have sustainable competitions without an ecosystem of clubs feeding from and into each other. In our model a Node 'Digital Growth Hub' acts like the County Board which is responsible for the economic development of its 45 sq km pod through coordinating and supporting all the 'Digital First Communities' and 'Digital Growth Hubs' in the pod.

So that’s the basic DigitalHQ structure for large scale digitalisation of communities,

any locality can set up a football team, equally all you need to establish a ‘Digital First Community’ through our open source framework is a smartphone.

In conclusion at digitalhq we believe that we are in fact stronger together through digital!

If we want Sustainable and inclusive communities around Europe we need a scale able, grassroots up framework that enables




We believe that our Digital First Communities framework offers an open digital ecosystems for Smart Communities

See our website


bottom of page