Yesterday DunLaoghaireTown.ie was announced as the category winner of Urban Towns at the .IE Digital Town Awards 2021
These awards are the first pillar of activity by .IE under their .IE Digital Town initiative which has been developed to address digital enhancement and adoption in Ireland.
The Awards promote awareness, knowledge, use and understanding of digital in Ireland by its citizens, businesses and communities. They also highlight the benefits and possibilities of digital and celebrate the digital achievements of local towns, big and small. The Awards are for towns of various sizes across Ireland.
DigitalHQ clg, the social enterprise that runs the @DigitalDunLaoghaire network and manages the DunLaoghaireTown.ie website and associated digital campaigns such as Love Dun Laoghaire, Buy Local and Why Dun Laoghaire, submitted an entry to the awards in the category of Urban Town for the work down in the town.
At the awards yesterday the CEO of .IE, David Curtin, announced that DunLaoghaireTown.ie was the winner of its category and commended the @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group on their work.
A number of years ago DigitalHQ set about seeing how it might put the concept of New Localism into action in Dun Laoghaire. They created an action plan for the digital transformation of the town and established the @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group to oversee the work of that plan. They benefitted from support from Bank of Ireland who contributed office space to enable the initiative to establish the Dún Laoghaire Enterprise Centre and from DLR County Council who supported their work building the town’s website and social media footprint as well as Business Area Promotion grants. DigitalHQ use the hub’s income to help future proof the local small business population through collaborative digital promotion campaigns, digital skill development and business attraction.
Speaking after the win DigitalHQ’s project director Eoin Costello commented –
“5 years ago our town of Dún Laoghaire was struggling with a high number of vacant buildings, low morale amongst the local businesses and little shared sense of better times ahead.
Our volunteer driven initiative needed to focus on where our tiny budget and part time team could have the most impact. So we decided to put all our efforts into what we could progress in the most rapid, cost effective way – DIGITAL.
We established the volunteer led @DigitalDunLaoghaire network with representatives from our local business community, Bank of Ireland, DLR LEO, IADT Media Cube, DLR Chamber, .IE and Enterprise Ireland.
The goal was to mobilise our town and its local small independent businesses around digital growth. Then COVID 19 hit and a ‘loyalty to local’ trend emerged, a desire by people to buy and back local whenever possible. We realised that the same tools we were using to enable small businesses to connect and attract customers in ways they had not done before could equally be applied to our locality itself. Hence our ‘Digital First Communities’ initiative was born to lead coordinated, collaborative campaigns to help increase footfall, attract new innovation driven businesses and create sustainable jobs in our town.
We are grateful to the Judges for recognising the potential of the model which has proven successful in Dún Laoghaire. We believe that the ‘Digital First Communities’ model which has grown out of Dun Laoghaire can enable small businesses, and the places they support, to thrive no matter what the future brings.
It’s important to remember that all this would not have been possible without the work of our Chair Chad Gilmer, our @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group, our supporters Bank of Ireland and DLR CoCo and our honorary patron Jennifer Carroll MacNeill T.D.
And thanks of course to .IE for establishing these important awards which can bring focus and attention to the importance of digital growth for local communities across the country.”
In terms of impact on attitudes to digital as a result of the work of DigitalHQ local business owners made the following comments –
Business owner and chair of Dún Laoghaire Town Team Martin O’Byrne said:
“As a bricks and mortar retailer of exclusive high-end menswear, Digital HQ has helped bring our story to life via social media. This has resulted in new customers to our store and their work has helped create a sense of community amongst retailers and residents. Digital HQ has ensured Dún Laoghaire is not left behind in the online world we currently live in.“
“At Brian S Nolan interiors it is all about the touch, the feel and the colour but with covid restrictions we needed to show our loyal customers and new clients what we could do online. Digital HQ has helped bring our customer along to show them what we and DunLaoghaire has to offer both in the town and online.”
Brian Nolan – Brian S Nolan Interiors
“The thing I like most about DigitalHQ’s ‘Love Dun Laoghaire’ campaigns are the fact that they are so inclusive. A large number of local businesses are mentioned which helps to demonstrate the number of wonderful businesses in our locality. Sometimes I feel there is a perception that there are no nice shops in Dun Laoghaire and this is simply not true. I feel the Love Dun Laoghaire campaigns raise the profile of the town as a whole, which benefits all of us.”
Graham Mongey – Managing Director, JJ Darboven Coffee