Waterford will be a Smart City by 2026 with every household in both urban and rural areas having access to broadband thanks to Waterford Council’s new digital strategy which was outlined at the June Plenary meeting.
However, Director of Services Kieran Kehoe warned that it would be like having a Ferrari in your driveway but not being able to drive if the local authority did not give their citizens the necessary skills to use it.
Speaking to members last week, Mr. Kehoe said the strategy would see the promotion of the use of digital services in and around the city and county in the future. “The document covers infrastructure, best practice around the country and how we want to roll it out ourselves across the city and county. It’s a strategy that will last till 2026. It’s set out around national policy and we have to work in accordance with that.”
He added that the main areas the local authority wanted to focus on was to ensure that they had digitally skilled citizens and that they could support and aid the digital transformation of businesses and the digitalisation of public services. “We have a certain number of pillars that we wish to focus on in this document and we want to support the roll out of a few things, remote working being one of them.”
“When we roll out broadband across the city and county, it will be available in every house but it’s like having a Ferrari in your driveway and you’re not able to drive it. It’s very important that we give all the necessary skills to all our citizens and to keep ourselves to the forefront of the digital age.”
Cllr. Mary Roche (Ind) welcomed the digital strategy and said it was the way to go. “Would it be possible for us to work with other providers to provide some sort of a one stop shop, to provide a drop in service so people could get information?” she asked.
She also raised the issue of social media. “Cllr. Mulligan has expressed the same thoughts as me on this. If we have social media accounts, they need to be active and proactive. The Waterford council account is very good and it’s one that others could emulate. The beauty of social media is that it takes you outside the corporate sphere where you engage with your citizens. So if someone tweets to Waterford council they should always get a response. Even if its just to say, that we will follow their complaint or query up.”
Cllr. Declan Doocey (FG) said that by this time next year everybody in West Waterford should have access to some provider which he said was wonderful. “There has been a long, long wait for fibre optics to be brought to every house so I welcome it.”
Mr Kehoe said Cllr. Roche’s idea for a one stop shop was an excellent idea. “We see the libraries as the best opportunity to provide that necessary support to the public.”
In relation to social media, Mr. Kehoe said the council had already changed their methodology on their social media accounts regarding public consultations. “I will take on board your comments about more interaction. It’s the modern way.”
Cllr Pat Fitzgerald (SF) pointed out that there were a lot of older people that had never used computers living in the county. “I would like to see a dual strategy going ahead so that we won’t do away with the old system until we are absolutely sure everyone is tuned into it.”
Author Justine Dwyer The Munster Express firstname.lastname@example.org First for News