A number of initial activities have been developed and taken place as part of the Town of Things project. One of the initial activities is  student outreach activities to help get students involved in the project and to learn about the new technologies. The first of the student outreach activities was to design an hackathon which university students could be involved in and help generate new ideas which could be included in the Town of Things project in the future.

The first of the Town of Things student outreach activities was a hackathon event, Hack-a-Town, hosted in Gorey, Co.Wexford. The Hack-a-Town event was held on the 27th of October 2021 in the Ashdown Park Hotel in Gorey. The event was hosted in collaboration with Dublin City University (DCU) and Wexford County Council.

There were 54 students participating in the hackathon from across two of masters courses at DCU, MSc in Digital Marketing and MSc in E-Commerce. The students were afforded the opportunity to participate in their first in person hackathon event since the Covid-19 pandemic.


Hack-a-Town event

What is the Hack-a-Town Event?


The Hack-A-Town event was a hackathon organised by the Town of Things project and hosted by DCU and Wexford County Council. A hackathon is a one day sprint like event. A hackathon brings together a number of individuals who work together in teams over the course of a single day to develop the best possible solution to a problem currently faced by a company or project or to develop new innovative solutions which will create value for an organisation or project.

The theme for Hack-A-Town was “smart town solutions”, with the goal of the event was for the teams to develop potential digital solutions that support the digital transformation, optimise the delivery of public services, encourage innovation and public benefit to Gorey. Hack-A-Town hackaton began the day with a presentation from Professor Theo Lynn followed by a brainstorming session for the teams, time to explore Gorey and each team presented their ideas to finish the day. 

Professor Theo Lynn’s presentation introduced the students to the current research and case studies on smart cities. During his presentation Theo Lynn introduced the students to research conducted by DCU which included the definition and dimensions that will help to define “Smart Towns” in Ireland, giving the teams a better understanding of what elements will transform a town into a smart town.

After the presentation by Professor Theo Lynn, the teams were given a couple of hours to learn more about Gorey, brainstorm potential ideas and solutions which could be implemented into Gorey. It was essential that any of the ideas or solutions would provide benefit to the town and it’s residents.

After the teams had completed their initial brainstorm, each team took some time to explore Gorey town. Exploring Gorey allowed the students to get a better understanding of the town and how it works. This allowed the teams to identify if there was a suitable area in the town for their solution. Exploring lead to many students developing new ideas based on what they had observed when walking through the town.

Hack a Town Student event

At the end of the day each team gave a two minute presentation on their idea or digital solutions and where the solutions could potentially be placed within Gorey. The judging team for Hack-A-Town was made up for representatives from Wexford County Council and DCU. The winning team was awarded with a trophy and a One4all gift card.

There were a range of fantastic ideas presented at the end of the hackathon. The ideas ranged from solutions to improving traffic flow in Gorey,  elevate Gorey’s sustainability goals, developing town information apps, using new AR technology and installing smart devices throughout the town. From all of the ideas presented, choosing a winner was difficult as each of the ideas presented would provide substantial benefits to Gorey.

The range of digital solutions presented at the event included:

  • SMART Parking Systems – Digitally enabled parking sensors to provide real time data about the parking availability in Gorey.
  • “Pulse of Gorey” – App to provide information about parking, mental health support & smart food solutions.
  • Kinetic floor tiles – Tiles to provide off grid electricity to Gorey Town.
  • “GEO-Social” – A live footfall app to provide information to citizens for the live availability in local restaurants.
  • “Gorey Story” – QR codes projected into the sky to keep up to date with news & important updates about the town.
  • 3CB Water Rescue Device – Rain water catching device to provide clean & safe drinking water to the residents of Gorey.
  • “Digi Gorey” – A number of digital initiatives to encourage walking to school, implementation of smart street furniture & pedestrian infrastructure.
  • Gorey Monuments & Heritage AR Experience – Using augmented reality to bring life to the various historical and monuments throughout the town.

The Winning Idea

Hack-A-Town winning team

The winning idea at the first Hack-A-Town was Smart Awnings.

Smart Awnings was presented by Smit, Jan, Ogulcan and Harmanpreet. The Smart Awing’s idea drew on a number of concepts which are currently in place in smart cities around the world as well as drawing from their experience of Gorey on the day. The smart awnings idea is to install a number of awnings along the main shopping streets of Gorey. The idea came from the teams experience of Gorey on the day, it was raining heavily meaning you had to simply go to your destination and not stop to look at other shops or walk along the street. 

Adapting the current technologies that are used in smart cities around the world to suit the Irish weather will help to provide cover along the main shopping streets of Gorey such as Esmonde Street on rainy days. These covers will help to keep pavements and pedestrians dry on wet days which in turn will may help to encourage people to shop or spend more time on the main streets regardless of the weather. Each of the awnings would have a smart sensor to sense when drops of rain fall on them to trigger the awnings to cover the street. The smart awnings would provide a large benefit to both the residents of Gorey as well as the business owners within the town.

The Hack-a-Town event was one of the first events hosted by the Town of Things projects under our education outreach plan. Keep an eye on the Town of Things website for our next student outreach events.



Town of Things is a pathfinder project between Wexford County Council and the Irish Institute of Digital Business at Dublin City University to trial new technologies or innovate using existing technologies. The Town of Things project is an innovation project primarily funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Digital Innovation Programme.

Check out our gallery and video from the Hack-A-Town event, 2021.

Hack-A-Town, October 2021.