Digital Town 2019 – creating a truly digital community
Digital Town 2019 – Sligo
Today we are proud to launch our Digital Town 2019 initiative, the aim of which is to celebrate the digital achievements of a local town. By showcasing the efforts of a town which is embracing digital for its citizens and local businesses, the initiative seeks to highlight the economic, social and cultural benefits of the internet to towns across the country, and to ensure SMEs and local economies are realising the full potential of digital technology, particularly e-commerce. It is hoped to inspire other Irish towns to take practical steps towards becoming fully digital.
Nationally, there are still low rates of e-commerce, despite Ireland’s e-commerce economy being worth €12.3bn. The Digital Town programme aims to help SMEs address this issue and also highlight how the use of digital technology has a positive impact on citizens’ lives.
Sligo Town has been chosen as this year’s Digital Town for its achievements in cultivating a truly digital environment in the town, and for its ongoing success in fully embracing digital for its residents and local businesses. .IE believes that in showcasing Sligo’s efforts, it can inspire other Irish towns to take practical steps towards becoming fully digital. Gorey was chosen as Ireland’s Digital Town 2018, please click here for more.
As part of the Digital Town initiative, .IE will plan and oversee a number of digital activities aimed at further developing digital skills for local businesses, citizens, and community groups in Sligo. Details on these events and registration to attend, can be found here.
Bringing local towns online
Findings from .IE’s SME Digital Health Index 2018 – research conducted among 1,000 SMEs—show that Irish SMEs are not maximising their full e-commerce potential. Ireland’s e-commerce economy is worth €12.3 billion, but just 3 in 10 SMEs (30%) can take sales orders, and even fewer can actually process payments for transactions through their website (26%).
Almost two-thirds (61%) of SMEs do not promote their services online and just 1 in 10 SMEs have taken part in a digital skills training or business funding programme.
SMEs customers are online – but they are spending on international competitors’ websites. SMEs risk losing this business forever, unless they improve their online offering.
In 2018, there were approximately 254,929 SMEs and micro-businesses in Ireland, accounting for 99.8% of total enterprises. .IE research shows that each of these businesses stand to lose up to €25,761 a year on average if they do not have a website.
Digital technology can bring benefits to all sections of a town: businesses, community groups, and citizens. It can transform the delivery of public services, making it possible to do more with the same available resources, and enhance workplace productivity, allowing employees to work remotely from anywhere.
From a social perspective, connecting people through digital technology fosters a sense of community and positivity. Research shows that 78% feel more connected and 80% feel happier when using digital technology.
 Source: SBA Fact Sheet 2017 https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/2017-SBA-Fact-Sheet.pdf
 Source: Virgin Media Ireland Digital Insights Report https://www.virginmedia.ie/pdf/VM_IE_Digital_Insights_Report.pdf
Sligo – Digital Town 2019
(Left – Right) David Curtin, CEO, .IE; John Reilly, Sligo Local Enterprise Office; Cleo Devaney, e-commerce manager, Aurivo; Ciarán Hayes, Chief Executive Sligo County Council, Oonagh McCutcheon, Customer Operations Manager, .IE.
Sligo has already made significant strides in cultivating and encouraging digital transformation.
Over the next two months, .IE—working with Sligo County Council, Sligo Local Enterprise Office (LEO), Sligo Business Improvement District (BID), Sligo IT and tech co-working space The Building Block—will plan and oversee a number of initiatives aimed at showcasing Sligo and developing additional digital skills and know-how for the people and organisations of the town.
This work will culminate in the official celebration of Ireland’s Digital Town 2019 in Sligo town centre on 14 October.
Domain registrations are seen as a forward indicator of economic activity. .IE data shows 18.6% growth in new .ie domain registrations in Sligo in 2018. This can be good news for Sligo’s future online economic activity. Sligo commands a 1.07% share of the total .ie domain database.
Our Chief Executive David Curtin said:
“We are delighted to select Sligo as Ireland’s Digital Town 2019, a town that is actively embracing digital and internet in all its forms.
“Sligo has made significant advances in cultivating a strong digital environment in the town. The arrival of high-speed broadband and free Wi-Fi in the town has stimulated a significant increase in digital activity and has allowed businesses and citizens to reap the benefits of the internet for their business, community group or local service.
“This includes the establishment of not one, but two tech co-working spaces, The Building Block and The Landing Space. The ambition of Sligo County Council, Sligo Chamber of Commerce, Sligo IT and Sligo BID for the town has really driven its digital growth and accelerated many other projects to develop the local digital economy. The Smart Community initiative in Tubbercurry launched by DCCAE, and the Tech Northwest initiative are just two examples.
“With more and more consumers shopping online in an e-commerce market worth €12.3 billion in Ireland, it is important that Irish businesses have the capacity and necessary digital skills to sell their products and services online.
“.IE, through our OPTIMISE programme, is already helping Irish SMEs grow their online presence and improve their e-commerce capabilities. Through the Digital Town initiative, we plan to apply this know-how and tangibly demonstrate the benefits of the internet to businesses, communities, and citizens in towns across Ireland.
“We expect to build on this work and highlight the benefits of the internet to the whole town of Sligo, improving citizens’ ability to engage with local businesses, community groups and local government services, enhancing the strong community spirit and creating a truly digital town.”
For further information, visit our Digital Town 2019 page for more details on the various events taking place and how to get involved click here.