A NEW pilot community initiative has launched in Dublin, allowing users of public parks to earn 'civic dollars' which can then be exchanged for goods and services from local businesses.
Led by Dublin City Council under the Smart D8 initiative, the project will see visitors use a smartphone app to receive the dollars with the overall aim of delivering better health outcomes for the community.
Five parks in Dublin 8 are participating in the pilot: St Audoen’s Park, St Patrick’s Park, Weaver Park, Oscar Square in The Liberties, and Grattan Park in Inchicore.
All five have seen recent investment by Dublin City Council who aims to roll the scheme out to other parks under its control if the pilot is a success. The Civic Dollars pilot will run for 5 months, and the team are hoping to attract 1,000 users in the first two months.
Companies participating in civic dollars by offering direct rewards to users include Epic Ireland, The Bike Hub, Mobility Genie, and Little Bird Café.
In addition, users can gift their Civic Dollars to participating community groups and organisations who can exchange these for a range of useful services such as marketing advice, IT consultations, legal consultations, and graphic design work.
The app does not measure steps or distance that the users accumulate in the park, just the time spent in a zone, ensuring that users with mobility or health issues are not discriminated against and can participate fully. The project goal is to decrease health inequality and help citizens who are not currently active to take part and improve their wellbeing.
Alison Gilliland, Lord Mayor of Dublin, said the project is a prime example of "community-focused innovation which will improve the health and wellbeing of our citizens."
“Dublin’s parks are an asset to the city, and during the pandemic many Dubliners have realised the importance of access to green space for recreation and leisure.
"We need to encourage increased use of our parks, and the Civic Dollars project will do that while having the added benefit of contributing to local businesses and community organisations."
'Civic Dollars' is the brainchild of Moai Digital founder Stephen McPeake and has already been successfully rolled out in Belfast.
Over 3,000 hours of activity have been registered in participating Belfast parks, with 1,530 civic dollars redeemed and 1,043 donated to community groups.
The technology used for Civic Dollars is non-invasive and privacy-friendly, by only using GPS data and allowing users to opt in once they enter a park. The data is also anonymised, and a user’s session will end automatically once they walk out of the park geo-fence.