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08/10/2015 - Major awards for innovative Donegal County Council projects

Rosita Mahony 379 x 269

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for the Irish abroad Jimmy Deenihan TD(right) with Chief Executive, Seamus Neely and the winner of the Esri Ireland’s ‘Maps Make Sense for Salzburg’ annual Map Challenge 2015 Rosita Mahony, Donegal County Council.


Showing exceptional innovation to educate and stimulate has earned two Donegal County Council projects major accolades.


The overall winner of the Esri Ireland’s ‘Maps Make Sense for Salzburg’ annual Map Challenge 2015 has gone to Rosita Mahony, GIS and Research Officer with the SPACEial NW Project for the Donegal County Council’s Diaspora Project ‘Ireland’s Call – to return its Global Diaspora Home’. Rosita is based at the Public Services Centre in Letterkenny.


The project was recently presented to the Minister of the Diaspora Mr Jimmy Deenihan at the annual Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award ceremony in Buncrana.  He highlighted the potential via mapping technology, to globally reach out to the Irish Diaspora Community abroad.


Daragh McDonough 379 x 269

IS Project Leader (GIS), Information Systems, Daragh McDonough with his a plaque and certificate received in honour of his recent award-winning story maps success


IS Project Leader (GIS), Information Systems, Daragh McDonough was also named as a 2015 winner in the same competition with his ‘Hills of Donegal 3D Tour’. He is based at Council HQ in Lifford. This same project also scooped another prestigious accolade in the Best Travel, Destinations and Recreation section at the recent 2015 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California.


The ‘Maps Make Sense for Salzburg’ annual Map Challenge 2015 competition set entrants the challenge of creating a story map that informs and inspires.


Rosita's idea for the map was inspired by her experience while working in the Research and Policy Unit of Donegal County Council, under the guidance of Loretta McNicholas, and receiving requests from agencies, related to the recession and the implications that it has on emigration.


The development of the story map involved considerable research around the Irish Diaspora community and the hard economic facts and statistics to understand why they had to leave.  A keen desire to find out where the Irish born population now live, led to the discovery of the UN dataset which allowed the time enabled layer to be developed with the heat map depicting the global spread very effectively.


Now equipped with relevant information to base their decision on, there is a call to action to participate in the Donegal Diaspora Global Skills Locator to connect with job opportunities back home.


Rosita will be presenting her project to the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Mr Damien English and Minister Deenihan.


3D Tour

From the iconic quartzite peak of Errigal to the spectacular sea cliffs of Sliabh Liag, Donegal has a wealth of upland areas to explore on foot. Daragh’s map takes the viewer on a 3D tour of the main mountains, with pre-set views from different angles. He even included weather forecast data to add some interactivity to the 3D landscape.


Congratulating both award winners Donegal County Council’s Cathaoirleach, Cllr Ciaran Brogan said he hoped both projects would reach the Irish Diaspora abroad, making available relevant information via a series of web maps, to those who are contemplating returning.


“Rosita’s story map brings emigrants on a journey with hard economic facts to understand why they had to leave but also, to inform them that economically, things are now improving and to visually present some factors to consider for their return home.


“The data in this story map can be used to allow policy makers to know what particular jobs to target in the future based on the responses gleamed through the Global Skills Locator. It is envisaged that the novel and unprecedented approach to understanding the Irish Diaspora community abroad through the Global Skills Locator, will be best circulated and marketed to a generation who are social media savvy,” he said.


Cllr Brogan added Daragh's Story Map encourages you to “pack your bags and lace up your boots after you see the hills of Donegal, Ireland from a whole new 3D perspective”. 


“His selected story map combined design, user experience, impact, and overall creativity with an interesting and engaging story,” he said.


Paul Synnott of Esri Ireland added: “On behalf of Esri Ireland we'd like to congratulate our winners, the standard and quality of Story Map entries never ceases to amaze or impress. We had 24 entries to the competition this year and would like to sincerely thank all of the entrants who supported the challenge”.






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