In 2013, Dublin City Council (DCC) applied for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge after discussions with Dublin City University on the opportunities of solar power in the city. Solar is a growing source of energy in cities on a similar latitude to Dublin and we wanted to understand if it was economic for DCC to use it on its own buildings.
The Smarter Cities Challenge awards successful cities with €500,000 worth of IBM staff time to concentrate on the topic for three weeks and culminates in the delivery of a report and recommendations. With the input of the city’s lord mayor and senior council staff, Dublin became one of 16 successful cities out of over 100 applicants for the 2014 awards. The final challenge we submitted also asked the researchers to explore opportunities for DCC to support solar power more broadly in the city and to inform citizens about how they could benefit from solar power.
Uniquely, the IBM team for the Dublin challenge were joined by two HSBC bank staff to provide input to the financing questions we had raised. The six-person team spent three weeks meeting over 30 stakeholders in the business, non-governmental organisations and community sectors.
The researchers were well supported by both IBM and Dublin City Council and were given access to the locations and information they required for this high-level analysis. In their feedback, they said that they were struck by the level of expertise in the city and suggested that an opportunity was being missed to utilise it. Many of the solar businesses and experts they interviewed had delivered successful projects abroad, but not in Ireland. These insights were captured in the report.