'As the infrastructure is being constructed, we will need young leaders front and centre, who can be supported & guided by experienced hands'

Clodagh Barry, Executive at the Western Development Commission on the key factors in developing smart cities and regions

27th March, 2019

What's your name?

Clodagh Barry

What’s your current job?

Regional Development in the Western Land Region of Eire

How long have you held the position?

Three years

Can you describe your daily work routine?

In a typical day, I could be working on ‘finding solutions to clean the oceans from plastic’ or ‘using our garden & green cuttings to generate a new bio-coal’. Typically I meet with regional stakeholders, to consider & progress a current challenge. These groups can be a blend of local government, industry and community who are re-imaging their future. The backdrop is a commitment and interest in sustaining & contributing to the economy from their own local geography. My work is agile, cutting edge, fresh and connects local energy to additional experience and expertise in designing a new future for the Western Region.

What is your professional background?

In my career to date, I have contributed to organisational growth & prosperity in three different contexts – business, university & state agency. Right now, I specialise in Regional Development, Innovation & Enterprise which includes the development of a new strategic direction for the Western Region, towards a high-value, low carbon economy, which is the Atlantic Economic Corridor and the Smart Atlantic Way. I have led strategic programmes of work in NUI Galway, and I have a track record of growing business for Irish companies abroad.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am a mum to three wonderful kids – Emmet, 10, Norah, 8 and Eoin 6. I like to spend time in the great outdoors, and I am constantly reinvigorated by the power of Mother Nature and what we can learn at her feet. This year I will start a third Diploma in Executive Business & Executive Coaching at Smurfit Business School. I cherish catching up with friends and family over some co-created home cooked food.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

A little known fact is I play a few musical instruments, and I speak a number of languages.

You are speaking at the forthcoming Smart Cities and Regions Summit in Croke Park, Dublin. What is the focus of your talk?

The focus of my talk is to communicate the vision for our region, and for Ireland to have the Western Region positioned as a Smart, Modern, Connected region. My talk will set out how we are going to harness our diverse asset base, and build collectively. I will consider why the region needs to be responsive, agile and at the table, in order for rural and urban co-join, organise and integrate. We are preparing to meet this grand challenge.

What in your opinion are the key factors in developing smart cities and regions?

There are several & multiple key factors to consider. I believe the first key factor is our ability to listen and to learn. Layers of Smart City experience is available globally, we can already benefit from that. In setting out the vision, we will need to work from the bottom up in creating that vision. We have to be ambitious and yet reflect where we are now, and where we want to go to. Each vision, will require a team that has time, energy, and resilience. As the infrastructure is being constructed, we will need young leaders front and centre, who can be supported & guided by experienced hands. We need to have local government, academics, community and business at the table. This is a whole of the system, needing a systematic, iterative and consistent approach.

Are our smart city and region initiatives formulated with citizens in mind?

We have built the Smart Atlantic Way the Smart Community pillar with the citizen in mind. We understand that the Data Infrastructure and Services, knows that citizens are net contributors of technology, apps and data. We believe citizens & community is ‘the Heart’ of the Smart Atlantic Way. We believe that data needs to and will contribute to the freedom of the citizens, and we already need citizens to build the sustainable places of the future.

Clodagh will be speaking at the Smart Cities and Regions Summit on May 9th at Croke Park, Dublin. Book your place at www.smartcities.ie

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