Creating a centre of digital excellence across Dublin
A new plan aims to put the city at the heart of the digital world, but what do people working in the area think of it?
Chief technology officer, Storyful
I work in tech in Dublin and I’ve barely heard of the Dublin Digital Masterplan. None of my tech colleagues or friends are talking about it. Instead, they are arranging, with their own initiative and no grand plan, conferences like Úll, Ship Week, Brio and the Web Summit, in between their day jobs of creating digital start-ups in spaces like Dogpatch Labs. They don’t hang around talking about what they are going to do in several months’ time, they just get up and do it.
Masterplans rarely work, they are overthought and out of date before they even launch. Masterplans are taken over or sucked dry by politically savvy consultants. Masterplans are slow, inefficient, unwieldy and unresponsive.The tech world (Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, eBay, PayPal, Yahoo and even Microsoft) has learned that small, fast, iterative plans are the best way of tackling large problems. Call it agile, call it common sense.
Dublin is already on its way to becoming a cutting-edge tech capital. This masterplan will only hinder that by diverting resources such as time, money, and attention they need. Give those resources to the people of Dublin and get out of their way.
Where we are in the tech sector in Dublin is far better than even a year or two ago. However, I am surprised that some things haven’t been done yet. The Digital Hub is great, but you have to be a company and pay fees. There’s no communal area in Dublin where people can set up their laptops and work from, or to socialise and help each other in the tech sector. With Pitchify we bring start-ups and investors together, but it took myself and the co-founder, Brian Daly, to put people in front of investors.
One thing that needs to be looked at is mobile connectivity. We have made fantastic strides with free wifi, particularly on bus routes. I live on the 16 bus route and have enjoyed wifi for nearly a year now, but it needs to be expanded onto Luas in order to make it better access.
One thing I can’t understand is the fact that some businesses don’t offer free wifi. If you have a business, I check in on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter which is a huge marketing tool. I think there’s an onus on businesses to step up to the plate and start opening up their networks. Compared to the UK we have better internet connectivity in our hotels and other outlets. We need to take that extra step so we can say Dublin is 100 per cent connected and open for business.
Some people have an idea but don’t know where to start. If you want to get help you have to go out and look for it, but that can prove difficult for less experienced people so we’re missing out on potential entrepreneurs. We need a similar organisation to Women On Air which has a database called ‘the list’ which has all the people on there that are available for interview for any type of subject and links to other journalists. Some type of central resource for the tech industry, which would have the names and contact details of people in the industry would be great.
In the past few years, people have become more open to tech companies, with Google, Facebook and Linkedin. It’s now seen as cool to be involved in start-ups and tech. Around 750 people registered for a recent Pitchify event in the Odeon bar, which would have been unthinkable several years ago and shows how much the mindset surrounding tech has changed.
Owner of Social Zavvy and MD,
I think it’s great what Dublin Digital Masterplan is trying to achieve and it’s interesting what the Lord Mayor is trying to do. Dublin has real potential to be a global leader in the digital economy. However, more needs to be done to get women involved in the industry as there are over 18,000 jobs on offer in Ireland in the tech sector. I think Sheryl Sandberg’s book has helped women a lot and her concept of “lean in”.