The concept of a Smart Region is a development framework which builds upon the Smart City model, and recognises that, in order for our region to achieve our Smart future potential, we need to consider the opportunities, benefits and challenges that Smart deployment can offer. We need to look beyond the traditional application in the urban context and move towards a Smart future that embraces both urban and rural regional settings. The Smart Atlantic Way Initiative aims to build upon the progress made in the Smart Places Project. The focus of the ‘Smart Places’ Project was to better understand our regional Smart position, through examination of the stakeholders, available capacities, datasets, smart initiatives and innovation networks in the West, North West & Border area of Ireland. This includes the counties of Cavan, Clare, Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon and Sligo and involves relevant local authorities (nine County Councils and Galway City Council), which represents a population base of 1 million.

How far are we from a Smart Region?

In order to understand how we can participate in and benefit towards realising the benefits of a Smart Regional Approach, we conducted a series of online surveys and workshops with stakeholders, to understand how “ready” we are for the deployment of a smart approach, and to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are being perceived by those stakeholders. The details of those surveys and workshops, and of their analysis are described within the “Smart Places Region Readiness Report” [“Smart Places Region Feasibility Study – Readiness Report”, Smart Places team, 2018]

In the context of our existing study, it was agreed to highlight key examples of smart initiatives that represent a step forward towards establishing our Smart Region, and increase our collective readiness to participate. The description of these examples is based on four priority areas, that are emerging as areas of work where the Regional Smart Approach has already shown some adoption across stakeholders: Governance, Business, Sustainability and Community.