How can we live better in cities? A €14.5m project aims to find out

Science Foundation Ireland and industry fund Enable research on tech potential

 Prof Siobhán Clarke, director of Enable

Prof Siobhán Clarke, director of Enable

 

A team of 60 researchers working with 25 companies is to embark on a €14.5 million project to show how Irish cities can exploit internet technology to enhance the quality of the lives of their citizens.

The “Enable” project is also responding to unprecedented challenges facing those living in cities in the form of air pollution, water and energy management issues, flooding risk, traffic congestion, climate change impacts and data security.

It will be backed by Science Foundation Ireland funding of €10 million and industry partners who are providing €4.5 million and it will be directed by Prof Siobhán Clarke at Trinity College Dublin.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, who launched the project on Wednesday, said a critical part of Enable’s brief was to examine how “the internet of things” (IoT) can be used to improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens living in cities.

They are, in turn, to play a role in helping to design smarter buildings and urban environments, and to participate as “citizen scientists”.

The IoT – connecting devices with an on and off switch to the internet – has been identified as the enabling technology to confront many of the issues facing cities.“It is estimated that IoT will have an impact on the economy five to 10 times greater than the internet itself,” Ms Humphreys said.

One over-riding factor that could prevent the IoT from transforming the way people live and work is a breakdown in digital security. For that reason, much of Enable’s work will focused on researching security and privacy of personal online data.

Enable’s researchers will be based at existing SFI Research Centres (CONNECT, Insight and Lero) which work on digital technologies, data processing, artificial intelligence and software development. They deploy scientists from third-level colleges including DCU, Cork IT, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, UCC and UL. They will work with companies including Intel, Huawei, and Cork-based Accuflow.