Just as Sligo is named the European Town of Sport, sports development in the county receives a huge boost in a collaborative online information initiative by Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership (SSRP) and IT Sligo.
For the first time, the public will have finger-tip immediate access to details about sports and leisure facilities across the county, including the exact Google Maps location of each.
The comprehensive database is launched by the Partnership in association with IT Sligo, which has provided the research and technical expertise.
The new database is a key element of a redesigned SSRP website which is also unveiled today. The website, now more user friendly and fact filled, is the work of the entire SSRP team under the direction of Ms Deirdre Lavin.
Launching the database, IT Sligo President Professor Terri Scott, said: “This project underlines the enormous benefit of the Institute’s civic engagement mission and our commitment to working collaboratively with external groups and agencies, regionally and nationally.
“Huge health and psychological benefits are to be gained from getting active and, with such an extensive database now at our disposal, there’s no excuse for not getting involved,” she said.
Also present were SSRP Chairperson Ms Maire McCallion, Ms Lavin, who is SSRP Sports Coordinator and Mr Roddy Gaynor, Chairman of the Facilities Committee, who is also Programme Chair, Bachelor of Business (Recreation and Leisure) at IT Sligo.
Sport Partnerships in Ireland operate under the aegis of the Irish Sports Council. The SSRP is acknowledged as one the most progressive and advanced. Their mission is to achieve increased participation in sport and recreation by providing assistance and information in areas of sports development, education and training.
Deirdre Lavin said: “A key function of SSRP, as outlined by the Irish Sports Council, involves the provision of information to the general public on sport and recreation in Sligo and this new database and mapping exercise will fulfill this requirement by signposting people to what facilities are available and where they are located. The project involved significant expertise and time and I would like to acknowledge the role played by IT Sligo and in particular Roddy Gaynor and Ryan Smyth.”
Roddy Gaynor said: “What we have now is a one-stop-shop information point about clubs, parks, play centres and public spaces. And we are not stopping here. Our next path will be to map all the outdoor pursuits and natural amenities so that we further engage the community with the marvelous recreational and leisure opportunities that we have in the county.”
The mammoth task of refreshing old information, researching, updating and cross-checking new information about the facilities was undertaken by Ryan Smyth, who graduates this year from IT Sligo as a Bachelor of Business in Recreation and Leisure.
A martial arts instructor with a keen interest in information technology, he began the work during a three month placement with the Partnership last year. They have since hired him to complete the job, in which he has been able to combine his recreational and technical skills.
Ryan visited most of the facilities and personally recorded the GPS co-ordinates of each. He has also now shared the GPS information with Sligo County Council and their Open Data initiative, which means the data will be even more widely accessible. This builds on excellent online data sharing that already exists from the Council for the county’s beaches, schools, libraries and other important services.
Ryan says: “These days, more people are searching online for any information that they need. So, if you know about a particular facility but aren’t sure where it is, particularly in rural areas, the information is now readily accessible, mapped and available with contact details on the database.”
Caption for photographs:
(Top)Ryan Smyth (right) pictured with Deirdre Lavin, Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership (SSRP), and Conal O’Fiannachta, surfing enthusiast and second year student on the Institute’s Bachelor of Business in Recreation and Leisure.
(Middle) Pictured at the launch of the Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership (SSRP) Online Sports Database at IT Sligo, were, L-R: Roddy Gaynor, IT Sligo and Board Member of SSRP; Professor Terri Scott, President of IT Sligo; Ryan Smyth; Tony Donovan, Head of School of Business and Social Sciences; Deirdre Lavin, SSRP; Máire McCallion, IT Sligo lecturer and Chair of SSRP Board; and Ann Higgins, Head of Department of Marketing, Tourism and Sport.
(Bottom) L-R Ross Lappin, Sports Development Officer, IT Sligo; Myra Merrick, Regional Director, Special Olympics; Cyril Feehily, County Chairman Sligo GAA; Rosaleen O’Grady, Board Member, SSRP; Andrea Fox, SSRP; Emer Concannon, Sligo Borough Council; Ryan Smyth, IT Sligo graduate; Liam O’Gormley, Sligo Games Manager, GAA; Senator Susan O’Keeffe; Cara O’Neill, HSE.