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Press Release

Minister Donohoe announces 18 successful Public Service projects to be supported under new €500k innovation fund

Published: 24 October 2019
From: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Minister O'Donovan welcomes first Public-Service wide Innovation Week

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD today (24 October 2019) announced 18 successful projects supported by funding of over €500,000 under the new Public Service Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is an initiative under the Our Public Service framework - the overall strategy for development and innovation in the Public Service.

Public servants were invited to make applications to the competitive fund which aims to support innovative ideas and projects from across public service organisations. Announcing the Fund winners, Minister Donohoe said, “The high level of interest in this competitive fund demonstrates the willingness of public bodies to reshape work practices and how we deliver services. It is encouraging to see such diversity in the types of projects being put forward. Innovative thinking is happening all over Ireland, in all sectors of the Public Service and at all levels within organisations."

“We are engaging through the Fund and through our Innovation Network with public servants who are actively contributing to a culture of innovation in their organisations and we want to support them."

“Some applicants proposed new collaborations, others are examining how new technologies can be applied to existing problems in their organisations. The common factor is a desire to add value to their organisations and create better services and outcomes for the public.”

Projects funded include:

  • A youth personal development programme in a secondary school in Kildare;
  • Innovative redesign of an occupational therapy rehabilitation facility;
  • Development of an App to simplify capturing the impacts of climate events and trends;
  • The development of a programme on mobility solutions across the four Dublin local authorities;
  • Hackathons in An Garda Síochána to look at organisational challenges and technology for policing;
  • Sensors on ringbuoys to address the issues caused by lost or stolen buoys; and
  • A project to create child distraction spaces in the courts.

(More detailed information on each of the 18 funded projects is contained in the Notes to Editors section)

Minister Donohoe continued, “The range of projects supported here are an inspiring glimpse into the scale and breadth of our public services. We are living in a period of fast-paced global change and with an ever increasing succession of complex challenges facing Ireland and our Public Service. It is therefore crucial that our Public Service continues to prioritise innovation and that we enable our Public Servants across all sectors to effectively respond to these challenges.”

The 2020 call for funding will be launched in December 2019. Full details of the scheme are available on www.ops2020.gov.ie

The first Public Service-wide Innovation Week was also announced today and will take place from the 9-13th December 2019. Patrick O’Donovan TD, Minister of State for Open Government and eGovernment, said, “For the first time ever we will have an innovation week across all sectors of the Public Service this year. All Public Service Organisations have been asked to place a concentrated focus on innovation within their organisations for that week.

“Organisations may wish to run their own innovation weeks, organise innovation events, collaborate on initiatives or invite speakers to discuss aspects of innovation. The main goal is to create an awareness of, and convey the imperative to find new and better ways of doing our work and delivering for society.”

In addition to the initiatives mentioned, a Public Service Innovation Network has been established to support the development of a culture of innovation across the Public Service. The Network will also form a mechanism to build skills in innovation and to provide the tools and resources to members.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

For more information see www.ops2020.gov.ie

Public Service Innovation Fund

The Public Service Innovation Fund is a competitive fund that aims to support innovative ideas from across Public Service organisations and turn them into a reality. For the 2019 call, innovative projects were sought that can be realised in 2019, projects that were scalable and ideas that were transferable within the Public Service.

Applications were evaluated by a two-step process, resulting in a short-list of projects for a final evaluation by Public Service experts across all sectors. This resulted in 18 projects chosen for funding. Details of all 18 projects below.

The 2020 call for projects will be published in December.

For more information on the types of projects sought visit www.ops2020.gov.ie

Our Public Service 2020

Our Public Service 2020 is the policy framework designed to build on previous reform programmes while expanding the scope of reform to focus on collaboration, innovation and evaluation. For more information visit here.

Projects funded under Public Service Innovation Fund :

    Project 1: LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) Youth Personal Development Project - Confey College, Leixlip - Funding: €10,000 LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) Ireland is a not-for-profit initiative aimed at increasing the level of positive leadership in Ireland. The LIFT Youth programme was implemented on a pilot basis in 2018-19 in Confey College, a secondary school in Leixlip, and the response from teachers and students was overwhelmingly positive. LIFT encourages young people to focus on their core values and is usually done on a peer-to-peer basis. It differs from other programmes in that the focus is on self-reflection and the need for adult leadership is minimised. The funding granted will be used to deliver facilitation training for young people directly within the school and therefore reach far greater numbers of young people in a shorter period of time.
    Project 2: Online Profile Tool for SMEs – Competitive Intelligence for Business - Centrals Statistics Office and Enterprise Ireland - Funding: €50,000 In order to plan and finance innovation, start-up companies and SMEs require competitive analysis to develop targeted growth strategies, generate business plans, draft funding applications and apply for bank loans. The funding will support the development of an online profile tool with visualisation and relevant outputs for businesses. This will help them to profile their current state against similar enterprises in their sector or to project future positions. It will also accelerate impact from Government supports provided by Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland and other bodies.
    Project 3: Monaghan Community Alerts Platform - Monaghan County Council - Funding:€35,000 The Community Safety Network, coordinated by Monaghan County Council, supports 29 local community alert groups in the County. In 2018 many issues with the existing alert systems were highlighted. Council staff felt that community groups were finding it more difficult to be heard, and to make it known what they have to offer and why people should get involved. This led to the proposal of a new tool to facilitate a more meaningful connection with communities. A county-wide platform, Monaghan Community Alerts, was created and allows Garda alerts to be sent to all subscribers and allows local groups to keep control of their local notices and subscribers. Alerts can be sent either by app or by text. The funding will allow Monaghan County Council to develop the service further to include GIS intelligent alerts. This will enable Gardaí to issue alerts to addresses within a specific distance of a crime. It will also help Gardaí to track the movement of criminals, missing persons etc. by geolocating the data received from the ‘yes/no’ responses to their calls for assistance.The project is scalable and has the potential to become a service which can be accessed by multiple agencies when they wish to engage with communities.
    Project 4: Enabling voice search across citizensinformation.ie - Citizens Information Board - Funding: €30,000 This project addresses the growing trend of voice-based search. Voice search is becoming increasingly popular and public bodies need to ensure that their information reaches their audiences by adapting to the changing ways they search for information. Unlike text-based search, voice search provides only one answer to a question. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the top result comes from a trusted and reliable source of public service information like citizensinformation.ie. The funding will be used for expertise in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Voice Search Optimisation to examine what types of public service information are most likely to be asked for using voice and to optimise content for voice. The initial pilot project will focus on optimising selected information on the citizensinformation.ie website for voice. The knowledge gained can then be used to optimise other sections of the site and the findings can be shared with other public bodies. Users with disabilities and people with literacy difficulties will also benefit from being able to search for information via voice.
    Project 5: Military Operations Rapid Instructive Gaming Environment (MORIGEN) –Virtual Reality for Training Irish Defence Forces - Funding: €50,000 The MORIGEN project proposes to introduce computer based military operations simulators at multiple Irish Defence Forces training locations to improve the cost effectiveness, training tempo and learning efficacy of the required live military operations training. The Irish Defence Forces have several examples of equipment simulators which perform their role very well. However, these are frequently focused on individual training and do not usually incorporate small or large team-based training. MORIGEN seeks to provide general purpose, virtual tactical training and mission rehearsal in a networked, collective computer-based training environment. The simulators can also cater for scenarios involving coordination and interoperability of other government agencies where the DF could be employed including Gardaí, emergency medical or emergency fire services.
    Project 6: OWL Programme – A Resource for Public Service Employment of People with Disabilities - Houses of the Oireachtas and Public Appointments Service - Funding: €10,000 The Government's Comprehensive Strategy for the Employment of People with Disabilities sets out a target of 6% public service employment of people with disabilities. The Public Appointments Service and Houses of the Oireachtas have identified an opportunity to support others in the public service to become inclusive employers of people with intellectual disabilities. The funding will be used to develop a resource for civil and public service employers as a guide to employing people with intellectual disabilities, based on the experience of the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Public Appointments Service in employing up to 4 graduates of the Oireachtas Work Learning Programme (OWL). The OWL programme is an applied learning, development and socialisation programme for young adults with an intellectual disability. The Houses of the Oireachtas Service is also engaging with two organisations working with people with intellectual disabilities (KARE and Walk) for this programme.
    Project 7: Inside Out: Breaking Down Barriers between Custody and the Community - Maynooth University and Mountjoy Prison - Funding: €20,000 The central objective of Inside Out is to break down barriers between custody and the community and support better reintegration for former prisoners in society through education. The project seeks to address one of the central drivers of recidivism – low educational attainment and negative prior experience of education - and support the development of new skills and educational opportunities for prisoners and former prisoners. It is the first project of its kind in an Irish context. The funding is for the first stage of Inside Out: The establishment of the ‘Mountjoy Prison Campus and Maynooth University Partnership’, and the development of strategy. The Inside Out partnership is a model that can be transferred to other public service organisations.
    Project 8: Drone Photogrammetry for Emergency Response Mapping - Dublin Fire Brigade - Funding: €10,500 Dublin Fire Brigade undertake a process known as Operational Intelligence whereby locations with special risks are identified, and a pre-incident plan is created. These sites have varying characteristics; they may be selected because they have a large number of non-ambulant people residing within (nursing homes), have complex layouts, are of high economic (data-centres), cultural (historic buildings) or social (hospital) significance, or they may present extra risk due to the business activity carried out within (fuel terminals). This project aims to augment the data collected from the several more complex sites with photogrammetry and 3d models, collected via drone survey. Furthermore, the aircraft and software, as well as skills developed through this initiative could be used in the event of a major emergency to create rapid mapping and photo-imagery. The learnings from developing such a resource could be transferred to all first response agencies on a national scale to facilitate enhancement of organisational risk data.
    Project 9: How-to Videos for Knowledge Management - Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation - Funding: €10,000 The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is facing a knowledge management challenge as they face large-scale mobility and retirements over the coming years. With the levels of staff churn there is a huge demand for learning and training opportunities for new entrants and from existing staff who are due to move on. This proposal intends to complement existing knowledge management tools such as procedures manuals by aiming to capture the knowledge in an interesting way that is engaging and encourages learning. The funding will be used to create ‘How-to’ videos to complement the Learning and Development function. A repository of ‘How-to’ videos will available on a web platform enabling statistical data to be collected to monitor use and effectiveness. The use of ‘How-to’ videos for knowledge transfer is readily transferable across the civil and public sector.
    Project 10: Innovative Redesign of Occupational Therapy Rehabilitation Facility - Occupational Therapy Department, St. Columcille's Hospital (SCH) Funding: €50,000 The aim of this project is to innovatively redesign the rehabilitation unit in order to maximize therapy time for the service user and enable more efficient use of highly skilled therapists. The Occupational Therapy Service does not have modern, fit-for-purpose rehabilitation facilities, but what they have is a space that can be transformed into a modern facility to add value to the experience of all service users, improve therapy outcomes, reduce time spent in hospital and improve the rehabilitation service provided in SCH. The funding will be used to invest in a kitchen, that allows for group and individual therapy in domestic activities of daily living; a Bioness Integrated Therapy System, to allow for state of the art visuo-motor rehabilitation; and a Boditrak Seat Pressure Mapping System. Investment in these three areas will transform the range, diversity and standard of rehabilitation provided.
    Project 11: GIS App for Data Collection and Reporting on Extreme Events Related to Climate Change - CARO (Climate Action Regional Office), Atlantic Seaboard North With Climate Ireland and Mayo County Council - Funding: €25,000 This project proposes the development of a GIS (Geographical Information System) App to simplify capturing the impacts of climate events and trends and to develop reporting mechanisms that if rolled out nationally, could ensure a consistent approach across the Local Authority sector. There is potential for the system to be made available to the public to assist in capturing data on a broader scale. The experience of local authorities carrying out baseline assessments has highlighted the lack of historic data available on the impacts of climate events and trends. The Local Authority sector needs to start collating the actual impacts and associated costs of climate change in their areas in order to identify the spatial distribution and areas of vulnerability, to inform climate adaptation planning and to target meaningful and cost-effective solutions. The funding will be used to develop a GIS App to capture the impacts of climate change events on the ground and in real-time.
    Project 12: Bringing Education Alive for our Communities on a National Scale (BEACONS) - The Teaching Council - Funding: €25,000 BEACONS seeks to develop and grow a model, that is scalable to a national level, of more and better conversations between teachers, parents and students about things that matter to them, and to implement the actions to which they agree. This model would facilitate local engagement on issues of importance to the school community and would also enhance links to national policy development and implementation. The funding will be used for a ‘prototype burst’ phase of development – holding a small number of impactful events; gathering quality data; sharing evidence; and planning for the next phase.
    Project 13: Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) - Reshaping How People Move Around Dublin Smart Dublin Funding: €50,000 Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) describes a shift away from privately owned modes of transportation towards shared mobility solutions (from public and private operators) which are consumed as a service. As Dublin struggles with the challenges of congestion & air quality, MaaS presents opportunities to better integrate existing transport services with new services such as car-sharing, demand response shuttle buses, car-pooling, shared e-bike schemes, shared e-scooters schemes, etc. Smart Dublin, on behalf of the four Dublin Local Authorities, wishes to create an inter-agency MaaS programme with key local transport stakeholders. The immediate deliverable is an internal ‘Point of View’ (PoV) paper on MaaS for Dublin to then kick-off the inter-agency programme proper. Once initiated, programme activities include an evaluation of the most appropriate Target Operating Model for Dublin, an assessment of stakeholder readiness to implement a MaaS service, customer engagement, and execution of a pilot project. The PSIF funding will go towards all of these activities. Learnings will be shared with other Irish and international cities.
    Project 14: Real-Time Expenditure Tracker in the HSE - HSE Programme for Health Service Improvement (PSHI) - Funding: €40,000 This project aims to address the absence of a real-time IT link between the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of contractors, the services they provide, the associated data in account and finance systems, and also time management of these services , which are being completed by email or by paper, in the HSE. The funding will be used to scale a prototype system, piloted in 2018. The proposal is to expand this solution in scope and functionality and make it available for other services across the HSE initially, with a view to further scaling.
    Project 15: Your Ideas - Innovation in An Garda Síochána (Hackathons) - An Garda Síochána - Funding: €40,000 The ‘Your Ideas – Innovation in An Garda Síochána’ initiative was a response to both the findings of the first ever Cultural Audit of the organisation in 2018 and the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland published the same year, which led to the A Policing Service for the Future implementation plan. The report found that “innovation, initiative and new approaches should be encouraged, and evidence-based success applauded and disseminated. Excellence on the frontline should be valued and recognised.” The funding has been used for two hackathons, on Organisational Challenges and Technology for Policing. The Organisational Challenges hackathon brought together 100 Garda personnel from all levels for a professionally facilitated 1-day event to develop creative solutions for five key challenges facing AGS. The Technology for Policing hackathon brought together Garda ICT specialists with their counterparts from Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden for a 2-day event in Limerick.
    Project 16: Tracking Fish Species – Transforming the Process using Solar Panels and Remote Data Transfer - Inland Fisheries Ireland - Funding: €20,000 Wildlife radio telemetry is a technique that uses the transmission of radio signals to locate a transmitter attached to the animal of interest. It is often used to obtain location data on the animal's preferred habitat, home range, and to understand population dynamics. Inland Fisheries Ireland want to change the way radio telemetry for fish species is carried out currently, primarily to eliminate the need to use large 30kg batteries at receiver station points. These batteries, which are located in remote rural locations, need to be switched out and recharged by staff every two weeks. The current method takes up significant staff time, results in carbon emissions, incurs travel costs and poses a manual handling risk to staff. The proposal is to fit each station with a solar panel to charge the batteries using sunlight and to use SMS data transfer to enable staff to download data remotely.
    Project 17: Smart Tech, Saving Lives – LPWAN Sensors for Ring Buoys - Smart City, Dublin City Council - Funding: €15,000 Dublin City Council manages approximately 130 ring buoys in Dublin and unfortunately, 10 to 15 of these ring buoys go missing or are stolen every week. The current system for monitoring and maintaining ring buoys requires inspectors to drive and walk around the areas, check the integrity of every single life buoy and record results on a paper system. This is time-consuming and results in carbon emissions but water safety is the critical issue, since a missing ring buoy can mean a life lost. The funding will be used to trial innovative low-cost sensors on ring buoys in Dublin for 6 months, to detect when they have been taken and feed into an app that the ring buoy inspectors have access to. The sensors proposed are low-cost Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) – a new type of connectivity innovation. Should a successful solution be found, with the support of Water Safety Ireland, Dublin City Council would like to work with other local authorities and water safety officers across Ireland to facilitate a wider-scale deployment. The project will also trial a novel procurement framework for innovative solutions.
    Project 18: Creating Child Distraction Spaces in the Courts Service - The Courts Service of Ireland - Funding: €10,000 The installation of child distraction spaces is a small but impactful step to reducing the stress of people who are attending court with children. This project involves taking a user-centred approach, collaborating directly with service users, or with advocacy groups who support them. The funding will be used to purchase suitable decals and sensory boards to create approximately 40 child distraction spaces. If successful, this project can be applied to any office that has wall space in public waiting areas and has the potential to have meaningful impact on a larger scale.