Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IT IS fast becoming one of the major events around the world, or at least the major event for technology wizards. But when all is said and done, the web summit is still only a three-day show.

Granted, some of the most influential people in that industry are brought to one location, and if Ireland is peddling itself as the hub for technology in Europe, it would be nice to think that a top-class show can be organised to reflect that aspiration.

Last year, Dublin experienced a water crisis, which caused problems for every industry trying to accommodate the web summit. This year, it was wi-fi, a must for all attendees – on a par with electricity. Surely, you would imagine, that would be the one area where the organisers got things right.

But they didn’t, prompting the organiser of the event, Paddy Cosgrave, to ‘implore’ the RDS to get it right for next year – otherwise, he was off.

I was a little disappointed to hear him issue such an ultimatum – or to say that no other place in the country was capable of hosting the event. If he wants to sort out such glitches, then I suggest he have a chat with the two ladies who organise Ireland’s largest event of the year – Anna May McHugh and her daughter Anna Marie – to find out how it’s done.

This year, the national ploughing championships – not as fancy a name as the web summit – attracted a quarter of a million people to a farm in County Laois where water, electricity, roads, buildings, catering, retail stands, show areas, exhibition halls, sanitation and, yes, wi-fi, had to be provided.

Anna May has been organising the event for longer than she would care to recall, and year-on-year has seen it grow to the point where it is now the largest event in the country and regarded as perhaps the best of its kind in the world. Every couple of years, the event uproots and heads off to a new part of the country, where everything has to be re-examined and new plans put in place. But they do it, and each year the championships continue to grow and confound all the critics.

Sometimes, organisers of events can suffer from tunnel vision, which may be the case in this instance. Granted, the RDS is handy. It is located in the centre of Dublin, but to say there is no other venue is simply wrong.

Everyone applauded Paddy Cosgrave and his colleagues for thinking up and developing the web summit. I’m sure he will come up with an answer to this current dilemma without having to seek accommodation overseas. But if he continues to experience difficulties, I repeat, he should go and have a chat with Anna May and her daughter.

I bet they would solve the problem for him in double-quick time.

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By Michael Godfrey
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