A Year of Engaging the Community: SmartBay's Outreach Activities

SmartBay Year of Engaging the Community

A Year of Engaging the Community: SmartBay's Outreach Activities

SmartBay, a pioneering facility at the forefront of marine research and technology, has been actively engaging with the community through a range of innovative and traditional outreach activities. These efforts aim to bridge the gap between scientific advancements and the public, making marine science and technology accessible and exciting for all. Let's delve into SmartBay's community engagement initiatives over the course of a year.


1. Inspiring Future Generations: Career Day at Gaeltacht Schools

SmartBay participated in a local careers’ day, reaching out to over 300 students from Galway’s Gaeltacht secondary schools. The event offered a glimpse into the exciting world of marine technology through presentations and interactive displays at the SmartBay stand. The students showed significant interest in the SmartBay virtual tour and highlight reel, showcasing the potential of marine science as a career choice.


2. Sponsorship and Community Involvement

In 2022, SmartBay proudly sponsored the Micheal Breathnach Ladies U16 football team, providing them with training jerseys. This collaboration not only fostered community engagement but also encouraged marine-related activities, such as beach cleanups, instilling a sense of environmental responsibility.


3. Empowering Schools through Educational Programs

SmartBay actively participated in educational programs such as the Explorers Programme Ocean Champions, engaging with schools and promoting ocean literacy. The initiative, carried out in Irish, culminated in a shoreline visit, leaving a positive impact on the students' understanding and support for SmartBay and marine awareness.


4. Promoting Ocean Awareness: European Maritime Day Event and STEPS Engineers Week

SmartBay organised a community event to celebrate European Maritime Day, educating the public about marine topics through interactive workshops, science shows, and educational materials. SmartBay also joined Galway Atlantaquaria to celebrate STEPS Engineers Week in March. These events successfully attracted a substantial number of participants, creating awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of the marine world.

5. CommOCEAN 2022: Connecting with the Marine Science Community

CommOCEAN is a vital marine science communications conference that provides a platform for knowledge exchange and skill development in communicating ocean research and technology. SmartBay actively participated in the 5th CommOCEAN held in Sete, France, presenting engaging content about our traditional and digital engagement initiatives, including the SmartBay virtual tour. The conference allowed for networking and knowledge sharing with fellow science communicators, promoting effective dissemination of marine science and technology.



6. Leveraging Social Media for Outreach

SmartBay effectively utilised social media platforms to promote their events and engage with the community. The post-event analysis revealed increased traffic during event promotions, indicating the effectiveness of their online outreach strategy. Attendees' positive feedback emphasised the value of these events and encouraged SmartBay to continue engaging with the community.

Over 211 posts were published across three social media platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter (now known as X) and Facebook throughout the year, both promoting events and engagement within the digital community.

This year, SmartBay launched the Where Are They Now campaign, which reflected on past projects that utilised the SmartBay Test Site and focused on their progression since. First, there was a focus on the Anteia Directional Wave Buoy project from Spain’s ZUNIBAL, where the project’s principal investigator, Adolfo García Corcuera told us about testing the wave buoy at SmartBay.

Next, CEO of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, Professor Noel O’Connor, spoke about accessing the SmartBay facility, along with all of its data feeds, in order to carry out scientific research for their Understanding Underwater Video Content project.

These campaigns spanned over two separate weeks and promoted SmartBay to the wider industry audience via LinkedIn, while also reaching a non-industry audience through both Twitter and Facebook.

Other social media campaigns this year included the promotion of the SmartBay Family Fun Day event as part of European Maritime Day In My Country. This was a bi-lingual event held in Spiddal as a way to engage the local audience with SmartBay and get local communities involved in all things marine and maritime, while learning all about the SmartBay observatory and virtual tour. The use of social media drove the promotion of this event, which saw over 165 attendees across various workshops and shows.

As this event was held in the Gaeltacht area, a bilingual approach was used throughout all promotional materials, with the Irish language used both digitally and in print to facilitate the target audience.

With further unexpected delays at the SmartBay facility, a steady and consistent social media campaign was required to keep the SmartBay social media platforms up-to-date and relevant. It was decided that this would be done by promoting the Virtual Tour facility that is available on the SmartBay.ie website. With 26 videos available to promote, it was decided to space these out over every second Friday during 2023. This campaign will continue to run into December 2023. The Virtual Tour is an online tool that was created to help the public understanding of the technology itself. As the observatory is under the water, it allows users to see what exactly it is, what it does, and why it is beneficial to the wider community.

In conclusion, SmartBay's year of community engagement activities demonstrates their commitment to enhancing public understanding of marine science and technology. Through strategic initiatives, sponsorships, educational programs, and effective use of digital platforms, SmartBay continues to inspire and educate individuals about the ocean and its significance in our lives. Looking ahead, SmartBay remains dedicated to fostering a more informed and engaged society in matters of marine science and technology.