Smart Solutions

eTownz Community Management Dashboard


This digital tool allows communities to create and manage a “Smart Community Plan” on an ongoing basis. The smart community plan consists of a database of local assets, stakeholders, projects, goals, metrics and funding opportunities.

Each entry is tagged with a hierarchy of relevant themes which in turn allows the community plans to be continually edited but also downloaded under any theme. The dashboard allows all members of the community to identify the themes and projects for the community with the aim of building action teams based on personal interest and skills.

The platform is based on 10+ years of research and practical trials. The approach aligns with the “Smart Community Curriculum” as commissioned by a group of 20+ local development companies in Ireland in 2021. The tool was developed to support a model for greater collaboration between community stakeholders and to provide a dedicated digital tool to better manage local development.

How does it work?

The process can be summarised as follows:

  • eTownz provides key town members (the coordination team) with management access to the platform, whereas all other town members see a basic, public version.
  • eTownz pre-populate the dashboard with
    • Open data records (e.g. lakes, forests, businesses, non profit groups)
    • Metrics (e.g. census data, unemployment data, crime data)
    • Standard records in all communities (Resident types, standard projects)
  • The Coordination Team can add/edit all records and change their status over time
  • The dashboard also features a  survey engine which is used to gather important information and opinion from across the community and displays it in an intuitive manner. It includes:
    • Residents Survey
    • Organisation Survey
    • Thematic Survey
    • Volunteer Register
    • “Fix My Street” form
  • The dashboard also includes communication tools for the Coordination Team to use, including:
    • Email newsletter scheduler
    • Events calendar manager
    • News manager
    • Advertising/Donation tool
  • The Coordination team is also given access to “eTownz Academy” which is a training portal containing videos on how to use each tool but also to run the annual “Smart Community Forum” which involves building thematic Action Teams who drive local development across a variety of areas.
  • The Coordination Team uses the tool to help with the ongoing maintenance of the “live” community plan and coordinate Action Teams to implement projects locally.

The tool can also be used by “Parent” regional authorities where they can add relevant county/regional records and tag the communities within the region which the records are associated with e.g. wastewater treatment plant. This allows for the creation of a live “Smart Regions” plan which is continually updated and both regionally and locally relevant.

The tool can also be used by a “child” community organisation e.g. local sports club, chamber of commerce etc. The local organisation can create and maintain a smart organisational plan which can be included in the the parent community smart plan.

Who is the tool for?

The tool is currently principally targets community managers but it also has unique user role types to serve others stakeholders in local, regional and national development.

  • Community Managers actively involved in coordinating development activities in their community
  • Community Residents  interested in being involved in any aspect of local development/participation
  • Community Organisations e.g. clubs, businesses, schools etc who can create smart organisation plan which merge into overall community plan
  • Councils/Regional Development Organisations can build smart regional plans which blend where relevant with smart local plans
  • National bodies including researchers Can suggest project to communities and access key national metrics

Do’s and Dont’s

  • Do: Provide clear structure to community planning.
  • Do: Focus on building a team of people with similar interests and complementary skills
  • Do: Provide a framework across the region so communities can easily collaborate and share expertise.
  • Don’t: Say that technology will solve the problem. People solve problems, technology enables solutions.
  • Don’t: Use long boring documents as a means to energise local action.

How was the tool used already?

40 communities & around 150 community leaders have been given access to the tool in conjunction with training and support. After a summer break, they will be engaged in a 12month program to support the complete roll out of the tool and Smart Community approach in their locality.

Funded by