Since its creation in 2014, Donegal Digital has developed a digital strategy for regional development and from this, an evolving County action plan to continuously push the strategy’s realisation.
The Action plan is multi-level and addresses, amongst others, the digital foundations of Broadband, digital skills and digital research; Digital Services and Initiatives for innovation for new digital services or supports for business and the community; Smart region initiatives such as Energy and IoT technology for monitoring the environment.
A vital element is high bandwidth broadband in the County. The Donegal Digital partnership has added substantial value - through the work of Daragh McDonough, Donegal County Council’s Broadband Coordinator – by encouraging broadband providers to invest in Donegal, working with the National Broadband operator to identify and remove rollout obstacles and early identification of Broadband Connection Points (BCPs).
BCP’s are wireless high speed broadband links which are then connected to rural facilities and a Wi-Fi internet service is offered at that location. Donegal has a quota of 12 in the County. Furthermore, Donegal is at the forefront with the Ray Community Centre, chosen as 1 out of 3 National Pilot Sites. Other BCP points are Fort Dunree, Community centres in Cranford, Malinbeg, Leghowney, also Amharclann Gaoth Dobhair, Meenreagh Hostel and Tory Island. This infrastructure is proving of vital importance to communities such as Tory Island. Digital services are also enabled by the GTEIC digital hub network of Údarás na Gaeltachta, which supports digital skills training, facilitates an eHealth project especially valuable for the elderly, supports remote working and also, arts and cultural projects.
In addition, free public Wi-Fi services are being rolled out with funding secured by the Council through the wifi4Eu European initiative. A total of 75 outdoor public Wi-Fi access points are being installed throughout the County creating public Wi-Fi ‘Hotspots’ and this work is over 90% through now.
Donegal Digital identified ‘digital innovation hubs’ as a suitable policy response and delivery channel for distributing digital services and innovation into our local communities. Based on the pioneering work of Letterkenny Institute of Technology with CoLab, Donegal Digital was the catalyst for Údarás na Gaeltachta establishing its first digital hub in Gaoth Dobhair and the genesis of the GTeic network of digital hubs in Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry. In addition, Donegal Digital subsequently led the development of the ii - Inishowen Digital Innovation Hub with the Council and LYIT.
To learn more about Donegal Digital and progress on our action plan for the County you can contact Dr Margaret Quinn, Donegal Digital Project Manager.