Belfast is exploring how data and innovative technologies can help us manage our parks and open spaces, ensuring they are safe, accessible and enjoyed by all.

Through the Department for the Economy’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), Belfast City Council and the Department of Justice funded five companies in Phase 1 of our Amazing Spaces, Smart Places project to develop a proof of concept and trial an innovative solution in one of our parks and open spaces.

The projects used a range of technology including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors; WiFi connection data; an intelligent monitoring camera with artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision; and a community currency app which rewards citizens for using our parks and open spaces.

With further phase two SBRI funding, two projects – CivicDollars and SparroWatch – have continued to develop a prototype and trial their products in Belfast parks during 2020-2021.

The Small Business Research Initiative enables the public sector to tap into new ideas and technologies created by innovative local businesses. It also gives innovators a great opportunity to trial and test their prototype in a supportive real-world environment as part of their product development.


Phase Two Pilot Projects

CivicDollars Pilot Project

Moai Digital Ltd (previously Bann Technology) has developed a community currency mobile app called CivicDollars which rewards citizens for using our parks and open spaces, and reporting issues such as vandalism. Citizens can then exchange their earned Civic Dollars for various rewards such as a free gym session, Translink travel pass or free tickets to visitor attractions.

People can also choose to donate their earned Civic Dollars to Belfast based community groups that can then exchange them for various services such as business training, professional advice and activity centre sessions.

The app, which uses geo-fencing technology and is based on a social cryptocurrency platform, aims to encourage citizens to be more active and improve their lifestyle.

It will provide a promotional platform for local businesses, services and events – and the data the council will gather from its usage will help it to better understand how people use green spaces in the city, improve park management, reduce vandalism, littering and anti-social behaviour and enhance the visitor experience.

A trial of the CivicDollars app will take place in various Belfast parks during Spring 2021, subject to Covid restrictions.

For more information on CivicDollars, visit www.civicdollars.com.

SparroWatch Pilot Project

SparroWatch’s intelligent camera system, SparroCam, uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to determine what is happening in a location, without the need for human intervention.

The system will enable Belfast City Council to monitor parks after hours, and provide real-time notifications.

The SparroCam supports the council’s existing mobile CCTV cameras which are used to reduce incidents of vandalism and antisocial behaviour in parks and opens spaces.

The battery-powered solution ensures a simple and low cost alternative to a full CCTV system in remote environments.

A trial of the SparroCam system will take place in various Belfast parks in early 2021.

For more information on SparroWatch, visit www.sparrowatch.com.