Lord Mayor Open Sources Digital Strategy

Digital ArkIt’s all too easy to be cynical about politicians — and then one of them goes and surprises you.

In my case, it was getting invited to a forum held this week by Naoise Ó Muirí, the Lord Mayor of Dublin. He invited the group because he wanted to know what the City of Dublin is doing well digitally, what is not so good and what improvements could be made.

Billed as a forum to collect ideas on how to make the Office of the Lord Mayor more open to digital media, Ó Muirí wanted to draw on best practices and available expertise (a list of attendees is below).

Time was volunteered by the attendees. “I’m into any digital scavenging we can do,” the Mayor said.Naoise Ó Muirí

It took place as part of the run-up to Innovation Dublin, a series of talks, seminars and displays celebrating Innovation in the capital city.

But Ó Muirí has his work cut out for him. Dublin’s Mayor is not the executive, multi-year, directly elected role that can be found in many international cities. Instead, the Mayor is elected by fellow city councilors and holds the office for just one year.

Ó Muirí said Dublin is now competing internationally on many fronts. With foreign direct investment, for example, competitors are located in the former Eastern Bloc countries. But when it comes to quality of life, the Mayor mentioned cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Manchester (the English one) and Vancouver.

Digital Dublin

As part of the Digital Dublin initiative, Ó Muirí said free city wifi will be rolled out later this year. With a tech background himself, the Mayor said, naming the network will be “crucial.” Otherwise it will end up with something like “city underscore wifi underscore network underscore 0001,” he quipped.


One idea Ó Muirí liked one idea that came from successful entrepreneur Eamon Leonard (@EamonLeonard). He suggested making unused advertising space available to Dublin’s legions of start-ups to help them build their brands. Leonard said San Fransisco does the same for its new companies.

Daragh Doyle (@darraghdoyle) said the City of Dublin website needs an overhaul. A Dublin app for visitors would also be useful, he said.

Joe Drumgoole (@jdrumgoole) called for more open data. He also asked if the City has a CTO. Told the function reports in to Finance, Drumgoole replied, “That’s where tech goes to die.”


Image of Digital Ark courtesy of HikingArtist on Flickr.

Image of Naoise Ó Muirí taken from his website Naoise.ie.