.IE, the Irish domain registry, has announced The .IE Digital Town Awards 2021 with a prize fund of €100,000. Oonagh McCutcheon, Corporate Communications Manager with .IE, joins us on the podcast today to talk about the awards.

Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 15:57; 9MB; MP3. Scroll down to see the video.

 

The .IE Digital Town Awards is the first step in a €1 million, four-year programme by .IE, “to enable a nation of digital towns”. The other elements include research into a new digital town ‘blueprint’, and a project to collect “big data” which will inform decision-making by policymakers and implementors.

Also on the podcast, we talked about The Tipping Point Report, published earlier this month, which revealed an 84% rise in the number of businesses that have invested in their online presence in the past year. 78% of companies who’ve invested in online say they are busier than – or as busy as – before the Covid crisis.

“There’s been almost 5 or 6 years of digital development in the space of 12 months.”

Launched today, entries for The .IE Digital Town Awards will remain open for five weeks until Friday 23 April. A shortlist will be announced on 24 May, and the final awards ceremony will be held – virtually – on 10 June.

The awards are broken into 14 categories for different types and sizes of towns, and there are also prizes for individuals who make a digital difference in their communities.

The .IE website also offers examples of the kinds of projects which are of interest to the judges, says Oonagh.

“I’ll give you an example of one that has happened in France. In rural France, they have the same problem that we do with GPs – it’s hard to attract them to work in rural communities. So what they said was, let’s look at digital technology as a way of bridging that gap. What they do is they have created these booths, almost like a photograph booth, but when you go into it, the patient takes their own temperature, their blood pressure etc, basic tests, and these are uploaded then because the GP is on a screen in real time … and then they have the consultation online and the GP issues an e-prescription which goes straight off to the chemist. And these booths are placed in places like public libraries, municipal buildings, those kinds of places, so they’re very accessible.”

“Other projects might be around topics like tourism, whether that’s a tourism app for your local town, whether it’s, maybe, digital signage for some beauty spots or walkways or that type of thing. In many towns and places of attraction, a lot of them are known by locals but they’re now known by anybody else. You might call them your hidden gems, and how do you surface up those hidden gems and make tourism visitors aware of them so that they stay longer in your town, they spend more money in your town and they tell their friends?”

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