Information age hits town with £15m boost

The Irish Independent, Thursday, September 25th, 1997

By ANN O’LOUGHLIN

HUNDREDS of software jobs are to be created on the west coast in the next few years after a Co Clare town last night got the go-ahead for a £15m investment which will fast-track it into the 21st century. Telecom Eireann last night confirmed Ennis as Ireland’s first information age town.
Ennis has been picked to spearhead the country’s entry into the information age and fight for a significant share in the changing jobs market.
With 15,000 inhabitants, in the next few weeks it will become one of the most advanced towns in the world and a national test bed for a range of new technologies.
The Telecom project in Ennis is designed to accelerate economic growth and job creation with the information age town expected to be a role model for the rest of the country.
Surfing the net and the cyber café are set to become as much a part of life as the local pub and the grocer in Ennis.
Every home will have a phone with a sophisticated digital mail box.
Businesses in the town will be given ISDN connections and high-speed access to the internet.
The majority of homes will have a personal computer - partly financed by Telecom Eireann.
Smart card technology will be deployed as the town makes the first steps in to the cashless society.
Home shopping and electronic banking will be commonplace and home security systems will be linked directly to the gardai.
Those living alone will be able to key in to menus and order meals on wheels on line.
Renewing driving licences and applying for visas will be a matter of pressing a few keys and education will be transformed as every student form the age of five upwards has regular access to a computer.
Distance learning, up to and including third level, will be made available to those unable to travel.
Businesses will be able to access the world market on screen and the new digital technology will enable Ennis to attract multinational companies to set up there.
Four towns, Kilkenny, Castlebar, Killarney and Ennis were shortlisted by Telecom Eireann out of 46 who applied for a chance to be a site of the new technology project.
Telecom chief executive Alfie Kane said Ennis would be blanketed with all the communication tools of the information age as the entire community got "wired".
"Ireland’s information age town will be a showplace where people will be able to see the future happening right now.
"Overall it will represent a significant boost for Ennis but will also place a huge responsibility on it in delivering and project managing its commitments," he added.
He said Telecom would also invest £1m in information technology for the three runner-up towns along with free voice mail facilities.

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