1st March 2021

Introducing Academy of the Near Future

Academy of the Near Future is a smart cities education programme being developed by Dublin City Council, Smart Docklands and CONNECT, the world-leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications at Trinity College Dublin.

At the beginning of 2021, we received Science Foundation Ireland funding to develop a version of the programme designed specifically for transition year students. In subsequent programme phases, this experience will be built upon to accommodate more types of learners.

The programme is a blend of hands-on workshops (featuring fun with Microbits) complemented by online learning. Learners will be introduced to smart city concepts, the Internet of Things and connectivity technologies.

Why do we need a smart cities education programme?

Cities today are facing a hugely complex set of challenges including climate change, shifts in population demographics, economic downturns and pandemics. Technology is both a disruptor and an enabler for cities. Smart technologies, in particular, present a huge opportunity for cities working towards holistic solutions to these issues, but the use of technology in the public realm also raises important questions for citizens around issues such as privacy, safety and sustainability.

As cities move towards more connected and data-driven infrastructure, increased understanding of these technologies is needed at a city administration and community level so more of us can engage confidently in shaping the future of our cities and societies.

What have we achieved so far?

Starting out on this journey, we worked closely with Wia, an Irish IoT startup, and design experts Context Studio to design and run workshop pilots over the course of 2020. The success of these helped us to secure Science Foundation Ireland Discover funding to scale up a version of the programme for Transition Year students in 2021.

Since January, we’ve been preparing to deliver the Academy programme at scale, which has included been working closely with transition year students to co-design the learning experience. Through a blend of interviews and workshops, insights from the students themselves are helping us shape our approach to programme delivery.

What’s next?

We’ll be launching our transition year programme in June 2021 and engaging 1,000 students across the country over the following 12 months. In the later part of this year, we’ll be launching a version of the programme for Dublin City Council staff who want to learn more about how smart city technologies are affecting their areas of work.

ANF programme timeline

What do we aim to achieve?

We envision a world where smart city technology improves the sustainability and livability of all cities. Our mission is to equip change-makers to tackle 21st-century city challenges.

We accelerate sustainable and inclusive smart city development through awareness, skills and confidence building through the following key goals:

  • Deepen understanding of smart city technologies.
  • Reduce the barriers for people wanting to engage with these technologies.
  • Provide knowledge of how these technologies can be used to address city challenges for local government and citizens.

Get involved!

Interested in running a smart cities workshop for transition years at your school? Get in touch at or via the contact form on our website.