Saratoga Springs Unveils Smart City Plan

Oct 19, 2016

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

The City of Saratoga Springs has unveiled a new Smart City plan. Put together in a collaborative process, the plan is designed to advance technology to benefit infrastructure, the business community, visitors and residents.

Saratoga Springs is looking to become a more connected community. On Tuesday night, after months of work from the city’s Smart City Commission, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan described the plan as a roadmap.  

“The roadmap 1.0 is a culmination of the work undertaken by the? Smart City Commission over the past 6 months. The roadmap marks the beginning of what we hope will be a continued effort by a citywide group of partners both public and private and who encompass many city institutions and organizations who are committed to and excited about Smart City improvements that will benefit our city,” said Madigan.

The roadmap is divided into several different categories, each including specific efforts, some of which are already in progress.

Categories include Intelligent Infrastructure, Better Public Services, Connected Community, Education and Training, and Environmental Innovation.

Smart City team members representing each sector spoke about their vision during Tuesday’s presentation.  

Tom Myers with the non-profit New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation, or NYSTEC, who coordinated the effort with the city, spoke about one idea included in the Connected Community category: an app competition.

Myers said the tech savvy, students, and entrepreneurs would be invited to build apps to solve problems identified in the plan.

“An apps competition would span over several months. It would start with some form of promotion of course, but then a kickoff where we’d like to try to bring together mentors from within the community with contestants. The contestants would be able to work with folks who understand, for example, the sorts of data sets that are out there they could be accessing to solve some of these problems,” said Myers.

In a city that relies heavily on its tourism economy, the Smart City Roadmap is focused on those who live and work in Saratoga Springs and those who visit.

Smart City Commission member Tom Newkirk, who chairs the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, said for the city to succeed, all residents and businesses need to be connected to high-speed internet.

“It’s not a question of if we do this, it’s when we do this.  The high-speed internet is going to be required as to how we monitor our health, our homes, how we educate and entertain our children and ourselves, it’s about our future. And from the Convention and Tourism’s point of view, it’s about how we are going to communicate and entertain our visitors,” said Newkirk.

With a plan in place, the city can now move forward to consider its options and search for funding.

The Smart City Commission will meet quarterly and Madigan said she will provide updates to the City Commissioners and mayor.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mayor Joanne Yepsen thanked Madigan and all the Smart City Commission members, saying while similar initiatives have been attempted before, this roadmap goes further than previous plans.

Now, she said, work begins to follow through with the plan.

“We don’t want the plan to sit on the shelf. We want the goals enacted,” said Yepsen.

To view Saratoga Springs’s Smart City Roadmap, visit: http://saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/View/5157