Over 100 delegates attended a one-day conference on Planning for Smart Cities and Regions of the Future hosted by NUI Galway last week. The conference, opened by Galway City Mayor, Hildegard Naughton, focussed on describing advanced technologies and highlighting how they can be used to make informed decisions during planning and day-to-day living.
Attendees at the conference comprised of a cross-section of interest groups including: public and private sector planners; decision makers; engineers; technology entrepreneurs; and owners of small and medium enterprises. Speakers included engineers, IT specialists, geographers, policy makers and industry specialists.
Keynote speaker, Dr Emanuele Ragnoli from IBM, highlighted the worldwide growth of urbanisation and gave a preview of likely problems facing planners in the areas of traffic congestion, water security and energy security. He described how IBM's Smarter Cities research centre in Dublin is using advanced computer models to enable them to plan the cities of the future in a sustainable way.
Presentations included talks on the use of computer models which could be used to advise bathers of water quality at Blackrock beach in Salthill through the use of electronic signage along the prom. Other discussions focused on models which could be used operationally to forecast coastal flooding events and help with emergency response planning. A presentation by NUI Galway’s Dr Jim Duggan described how computer modelling can be applied to human habitation behaviour illustrating how a city can plan for social integration during periods of increased growth and diversity.
Chaired by Professor Gerry Lyons, NUI Galway’s Dean College of Engineering and Informatics, the aim of the conference was to stimulate debate on the future of our region and how technology and infrastructure will help shape the future.
Dr Mike Hartnett, Vice-Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics and one of the conference organisers, said: “The conference has shown the depth of expertise that exists between NUI Galway and the local community in the area of sustainable and efficient planning of our region and of Galway City. It is likely that over the next 20 years or so Galway City will expand relatively fast. It is our intention to increase our activities in the area of sustainable planning and development. We are keen to develop greater links between the regional partners and NUI Galway to improve the quality of life for the people living in this region.”