Where’s the Capital?
We all know the capitals of fashion are London, New York and Paris, while the capital of film is Hollywood (or Bollywood!) – but what’s the new capital of the internet? Specifically, the internet of things?
The answer – according to new research by Ozy – might surprise you. It’s not Tokyo, Seoul, or even Silicon Valley. Rather, it’s the capital of the Republic of Ireland – Dublin. Not normally considered a ‘tech city’, Dublin is on its way to leapfrogging its more illustrious and prestigious competitors to become one of the ‘smartest’ cities in the world.
The city benefits from being in the Republic of Ireland. Following the financial crisis of 2008, the country has gone out of its way to make itself as open to business as possible. The enterprise-friendly climate means several of the world’s top tech companies have been attracted enough to locate their European headquarters there. Google are now Ireland’s number one exporter, while Intel recently invested $5 billion into the city and it’s wider economy. Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal, Twitter and Zynga also use the city as their home.
As part of Intel’s investment, the city is soon to connect every street, park and alleyway with high-tech sensors that will have the capability to monitor everything from air pollution and noise volumes to traffic density and citizen feedback of tourist spots.According to Peter Finnegan – Dublin’s Director of Economy and International Relations – the sensors will become “a strong, unique selling point for Dublin and help [them] consolidate the brand of a digital hub”.
Dublin isn’t alone in using sensors – Santander in Spain has partnered with IBM to install more than 12,000, while Chicago is using environmental sensors on every lamp post. The Irish capital does, however, aim to become the largest city covered completely in sensors. They will have 200 gateways (one per square kilometre), and each one will contain at least twelve sensors.
The city was chosen not only because of the number of tech companies in residence, but also because of its relatively small size. A population of 500,000 means the intensive project can be set up easily and used as a testing ground ahead of larger rollouts. Intel will cover most of the cost – though it is not clear exactly how much the bill will come to.
It is also not clear what the benefits will be for an ordinary Dubliner. The authorities hope it will make the city more attractive to investors and consequently will help battle the 14.7 percent unemployment rate, but the outcome of that ambition will not become clear for some time.
By Daniel Price