Government earmarks £120,000 to bring smart tech to parks

Businesses getting through to the second round will receive up to £20,000 in contracts from the government

Local governments in Northern Ireland and Ireland have launched an innovation challenge encouraging businesses in Belfast and Dublin to help make parks and public spaces safer and more accessible as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

The money has collectively been put forward by Belfast City Council, the Department of Justice and Dublin City Council to finance businesses creating data-driven technologies that will help take the strain off local authorities to manage public spaces.

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The overall aim is to increase visitor numbers and change the perception of public spaces into safe areas that can be enjoyed by all. The government is asking that any innovations submitted as entries to the competition help tackle antisocial behaviour, while also protecting the privacy of people using the spaces.

It's also inviting participants to come up with ideas of how different groups can work together to reduce the time it takes for the areas to be managed and reduce the costs associated with managing parks and other communal areas in towns and cities.

The competition has been split up into two parts. In the first stage, businesses are invited to demonstrate a working prototype of the technology they wish to put forward for councils to test. It should also detail the product's route to market to show that it does have the potential to generate revenue.

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The second stage will identify the most successful projects from stage one of the competition, developing them to satisfy all the needs of the relevant authorities. Businesses will receive up to 20,000 in contracts, with each lasting up to four months (up to 31st March 2019).

Businesses can enter the competition until 14 November, with those getting through to the first stage being notified by 30 November.

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