Can public servants be inventors?

Roy Lord Mayor Award

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí presenting his award to Ray O’Donnell

When you think of an inventor, Dublin City Council might not spring to mind, but Roy O’ Donnell, emerged as a serial inventor after winning three prizes in the council’s annual staff ideas scheme. Roy has also just been honoured with a Lord Mayor’s awards for his special contribution to Dublin.

Roy is the fourth generation in his family to work for the council. Through his work in the Drainage division as a gully manager, he saw the effort that the crews had to go to keep the sewerage system in the city in working order.  To make their jobs easier and to improve efficiency Roy invented number of devices, which were designed by him and manufactured to his specifications.  His design for a gully cap holder that allows direct access for cleaning older drains has been patented in Ireland and a patent application is in progress in the UK.  The retro-fitting of 300 existing gullies has led to estimated savings of over €200,000 so far.

Roy is just one of many staff innovators coming up with new ideas for the city or new ways of working for the council.  Greening projects being implemented through the staff ideas scheme include a pilot greenway walk along the River Dodder and new communal gardens in Pearse Street and other social housing.  Small ideas with big savings include the introduction of sensor operated lighting in homeless hostels and remote CCTV surveillance on council property.  Some ideas were about improving emergency services with pathfinders to help fire and ambulance staff navigate large housing estates or building staff capacity through driver licence training and staff skillshare schemes.  We were delighted also to see staff coming up with ‘ideas about ideas’ such as Beta Projectsfor testing on street urban solutions.

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