Special Report
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‘I want to see Dublin cleaner, greener and easier to get around’

As cities evolve faster due to Covid, businesspeople reveal the changes they hope to see

Cities around the world are evolving at great pace, with the pandemic accelerating many changes that were already coming down the tracks. We hear from several businesspeople on the changes they would like to see in the cities they work and live in.

Helena Hayes, director new homes and sales at Quintain 
I would like to see more considered sustainable initiatives which enhance communities and placemaking in our cities. By creating mixed-use communities and moving the standard for health and wellbeing from solely within the walls of our homes and offices to the external public realm where we live, work, shop and relax. By doing so, we ensure that our commercial and residential neighbourhoods stay alive 24/7. An integrated and considered vision will achieve this and allow our communities to be cohesive and full of life around the clock.

Creating innovative and equitable spaces within our parks and public areas will allow communities to make the best possible use of these areas. People-centric public spaces, safe cycling routes for all abilities that are safely segregated from busy traffic and slow streets will hopefully remain post-pandemic and will add to the vibrancy and the amenity offerings of our cities. This will further allow for collaboration between commercial and residential communities and shared public spaces.

Cornerstone values to create this must include excellent connectivity and the protection of natural assets within a given locality. Harnessing these values will create interesting, exciting and vibrant cities to live and work in for now and into the future.

Eóin MacManus, chief business officer at Three Ireland 
It goes without saying that cities will never be the same again, with the pandemic accelerating a change that we knew we needed but didn't quite know how it could happen. Where I work, Dublin city, the lifebloods have always been offices, retail and tourism, and over the last year, these have been essentially non-existent. The focus has shifted and the city needs to react appropriately.

I want to see Dublin become a smart city, with technology becoming the game changer in its future. Already, little by little, urban environments are getting smarter and advancements in connectivity mean the possibilities are endless. Leaning more on technology will ensure that planners are making the best decisions based on real-time data, making the city liveable and relevant to people’s daily lives, whether that’s how they commute or enjoy the city outside of work.

I believe that from all of this, the emphasis on quality of life within the city will become the focal point and I want to see Dublin cleaner and greener, easier to get around and generally more liveable in, particularly for people with younger families. I believe to make the city relevant to more people, an injection of bravery, coupled with creativity and technology, is the way to make this happen.

Vincent Murray, director of economic development, Limerick City and County Council 
Limerick is now on the cusp of its greatest transformation in more than a century with our Limerick 2030 Plan now delivering key projects, the public realm elements of which will now be accelerated as a result of Covid-19. Our aim is to work with our partners to transform and revitalise Limerick into a green connected city centre, working holistically on the integration and management of the daytime, evening and night-time economies.

We see the city as an ecosystem where retail alone is not the only factor affecting its performance – hospitality, cultural and recreational hubs anchored in an attractive and inviting public realm all contribute to creating an environment where people enjoy meeting and spending time in cities. Changes to our public spaces in Limerick now accelerated by Covid-19 have given us a unique opportunity to create an urban environment that offers a high quality of living, which attracts more people to live and work in our city centre.

Mark Finlay, head of public sector Ireland at Amazon Web Services 
"I love to cycle and to sea-swim. Dublin is a good city for both, but with a little bit more technology and investment it could be even better. Take bike-parking, for example. More and more people are cycling in Dublin – which is great – but it means finding somewhere safe and secure to lock up, especially at popular spots, which can be hard. So I'd love to see this made easier with real-time availability information online.

Not only would it be another good reason to leave the car at home, it would also help solve the problem of haphazardly locked bikes. As for sea-swimming, its benefits – in terms of wellbeing and mental health – are well-documented. So let’s encourage more Dubliners to do it. A smartphone app providing information on water temperature and quality at different locations would get more people taking the plunge.