“Sligo will continue to be a digital powerhouse for the West of Ireland” – Digital Town 2019
We have just wrapped up the Closing Ceremony of ‘Digital Town 2019’ – an initiative, now in its second year, which promotes awareness, knowledge, use and understanding of the internet in Ireland by its citizens, businesses and communities. In 2018, Gorey, Co. Wexford was selected as Ireland’s first ‘Digital Town’ and this year, Sligo was selected for its ongoing efforts in cultivating a truly digital environment, and for its success in embracing digital for its citizens and local businesses.
Through showcasing the efforts undertaken in Sligo and demonstrating the tangible benefits to towns of making a shift towards digitalisation, it is hoped that Sligo can inspire other Irish towns to take practical steps towards becoming fully digital.
Digital Town 2019 was a hive of activity with a series of events taking place over the months of August, September and October, highlighting the benefits and possibilities of the internet and celebrating the digital achievements of a local town. These events culminated in the closing ceremony for Digital Town 2019 on 14th October.
.IE worked with groups in Sligo including the County Council, Local Enterprise Office, Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District (BID), South Sligo Smart Community and IT Sligo amongst others, to plan and oversee a number of digital events for businesses, citizens, community groups and school children.
Micro:bits workshop – August 13 – 16th
Our first Digital Town event was the Micro:bits workshop, held in Sligo Library for a group of children aged 9-14 years old taught by course leader Stuart Lawn. The workshop introduced the children to coding Micro:bits using Microsoft MakeCode. The mission was to get excited about creating, rather than consuming, using electronic devices. You can view the workshop here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOaHDZIqaYM
Breakfast Bytes - September 10th
Our second event, ‘Breakfast Bytes’ was an exclusive, digital storytelling and learning event where we hosted a panel of speakers made up of different businesses, on both a local, regional and national scale, which included:
The panel shared their experiences (both good and bad) of bringing their businesses online. This event was moderated by Claire Ronan of Ocean FM. It was an intimate gathering of SMEs and micro-businesses over breakfast at The Glasshouse hotel. The event was well attended by both online beginners and professionals who are keen to develop their online presence and was really useful to hear some honest, real life stories along with a wealth of practical tips. We thank our panellists for sharing their experiences with us and for being such an inspiration! Highlights from this event can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWZW8IZ_Yv8
Dine & Shine – September 17th
‘Dine & Shine’ was held the following week after Breakfast Bytes at An Chroi, South Sligo Enterprise Centre in Tubbercurry and followed a similar format to Breakfast Bytes with a different panel of speakers and Claire Ronan (Ocean FM) moderating. We were delighted to have on the panel:
The panel shared some invaluable insights into developing business online – what worked well and what didn’t work so well. There was great interaction with the audience who clearly made the most of having such experience in the room and the opportunity to learn from others who have made online business successful. Thank you to everyone who attended and especially our panel of speakers who generously shared their time and experience. An overview of our Dine & Shine event can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayPgh-WfUnc
IT Sligo plays a vital role in the life of Sligo town, not only as an educational centre but very importantly, as a powerhouse of research and innovation. The college works very closely with town leaders on matters affecting the town and surrounding region – in particular, a joint vision on the ambition to make Sligo a smart city. We filmed some of the activity taking place at IT Sligo which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIWE66Qhpg8
Digital Skills for Citizens
We held a coffee morning along with Sligo PPN (Public Participation Network) to encourage local citizens to sign up for a free internet training course aimed at people who have little or no experience of using the internet. During the coffee morning, there was discussion about how the internet can be used in everyday life. Many attendees were keen to keep up with their grandchildren! The morning was well received by local residents and the training will take place later this year. You can view the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH_-STANZDk
Digital Tools to Save Time and Money in your Business – September 25th
Our Digital Tools workshop was held at the Town Hall over lunchtime for SMEs and micro businesses to drop in and see demonstrations of various digital tools which can help their businesses to be more productive, saving time and money. The event was moderated by Newstalk’s Technology Correspondent, Jess Kelly and the tools demonstrated were:
- Canva demonstrated by Dmac Media.
- Doodle Poll demonstrated by Dmac Media.
- DropBox demonstrated by Victor Leonard, OSD Digital Agency.
- Filud.com demonstrated by Mario Gheghici, Filud.com.
- Google my Business demonstrated by Danielle Doran, FCR Media.
- Hootsuite demonstrated by Rakky Curvelo, Matrix Internet.
- Pixlr demonstrated by Darren Mahon, Ocean FM.
- Slack demonstrated Conn Ó Muíneacháin, Blacknight Internet Solutions.
Each demonstration took approximately 15 mins so attendees could move around and review a range of useful digital tools to help develop their online presence or simply run their business more productively. The event was also a great networking opportunity with many business owners taking the opportunity to discuss and share ideas. See highlights from the Digital Tools Workshop here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fSiXYn-23I
Website Healthchecks – September 25th
Also on 25th September, we held website healthchecks where five Sligo-based companies (chosen by the Chamber and the LEO) were given an opportunity for their business website to be reviewed by an expert and receive a complimentary website review. Companies were provided with a report and recommendations for improvements. For an overview on the website healthcheck sessions, please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I27q4P2vV7g&t=2s
The Closing Ceremony of Digital Town 2019 – October 14th
The Closing Ceremony of Digital Town 2019 was held at The Model Gallery on 14th October from 7.30am – 9.30am. Our guests gathered early to mingle and have some breakfast prior to the proceedings taking place. Newstalk’s Bobby Kerr was MC for the event. Bobby is a big advocate for SMEs and he shared a lot of useful insights.
The event started with an opening address by David Curtin – Chief Executive, .IE. David explained that Irish towns investing in digital infrastructure enjoy “more revenue”, “more jobs”, and “better access to public and private services”. Sligo Town is fast becoming the West of Ireland’s ‘digital powerhouse’.
“Digital technology is empowering. For local businesses, it can help them generate more revenue, streamline their operations, and connect to new markets. For the local community, it can mean better access to public and private services, less isolation for people who live in remote locations, more opportunities for education, and more jobs,” said Mr Curtin.
“Sligo has invested in its digital infrastructure to great effect. To take just one example, the Building Block co-working space, which acts like a magnet for Irish and international companies and provides a space for remote workers who would otherwise have to commute to another town or city.”
“With continued commitment to these initiatives and programmes, Sligo will continue to be a digital powerhouse for the West of Ireland, contributing economically and socially to its development.”
David was then followed by a presentation from our keynote speaker Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership who stated that towns that lack state-of-the-art digital infrastructure should nevertheless maximise use of their existing assets: “While it’s always preferable to have high-speed broadband, a town can digitalise what it has. That often starts with addressing the ‘understanding’ gap.”
The theme: ‘Building the Western Powerhouse – digitising Sligo to accelerate growth and development’ was discussed by our panel who included:
- Ciarán Hayes – Chief Executive, Sligo County Council
- Brendan McCormack – President, IT Sligo
- David Kenny – Chair, Tech North West & VP of Software Development, Overstock
- Oonagh McCutcheon – Customer Operations Manager, .IE
- Conor McCarthy – President, Sligo Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The various events and activities that took place over the past few weeks were enthusiastically received by the people of Sligo. It was very rewarding for .IE to be involved with a town which is so proactive in its attitude to digitalisation. We really enjoyed spending time in such a lovely area, meeting and working with all the different groups, networks, the Council and of course, people of the town. We look forward to seeing how digitalisation will develop further by the businesses in the area and how Sligo will continue to grow as a digital powerhouse for the West of Ireland. Our Closing Ceremony video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4RRzxZ7vUw
L-R: David Curtin, Conor McCarthy, David Kenny, Ciarán Hayes, Oonagh McCutcheon, Brendan McCormack, Bobby Kerr, Phil Prentice, John Reilly