Belfast seeks innovations to manage public spaces

City council and Department of Justice put £120k in funding up for grabs

Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice are offering funding to businesses to create an innovative way to manage open spaces using technology.

Winning submissions will use digital and data-driven solutions to improve the management of parks and other open public spaces around Belfast. However, there may be opportunities for businesses to develop ideas for Dublin City Council in future.

Applicants must show a particular focus on making open spaces safer, yet accessible, and on making sure that users’ privacy is respected.

The council and the department have made funding of up to £120,000 available for winners of the “Amazing spaces, smart places” competition, with contracts of up to £20,000 awarded for a period of four months. 

The contest falls under Belfast City Council’s broader Smart Belfast programme, whose objectives include “contribute to the council’s service transformation by supporting the adoption of user-centric design; innovative procurement; and the application of data science and digital technologies.”

Smart Belfast – a collaboration between universities, businesses, local government and citizens – tackles urban problems and supports public service transformation through innovation, technology and data science. 

Other Smart Belfast projects already underway in the city include work with The Young Foundation on a social innovation programme enabling residents to access tools to make changes in their neighbourhood and Northern Ireland’s open data portal, OpenData NI. 

The initiative was launched at the Belfast Big Data conference yesterday. Funding has come through the Small Business Research Initiative programme, part of government innovation agency Innovate UK. 

Sam Trendall

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