After 37 years at General Electric, Mark Little is looking to bring his knowledge of technology and innovation to Schenectady and worldwide.
Little, 62, who served as GE’s chief technology officer and director of GE Global Research, was named chairman of Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy’s “Smart City Advisory Commission” on Monday.
Little, a Niskayuna resident, said the commission is a chance for him to help make the city stronger and smarter.
“When I announced my retirement, I went to see Mayor McCarthy and asked his advice of how I can help in the community,” Little said following McCarthy’s news conference at City Hall appointing the commission Monday morning.
“He brought the idea of smart cities to my attention,” he said. “One thing led to another and he asked me to chair it. It’s right in line with what I want to do with my time and help the community to be better. It also calls on some of my background and things I know about technology.”
The eight-member commission is tasked with incorporating technology in public safety, health care, education and the delivery of services, with the goal of boosting efficiency, cutting costs and providing more information to the public.
Members of the commission are Kishor Bagul, former chief technology officer of New York State; Transfinder CEO Antonio Civitella; Daily Gazette Publisher John DeAugustine; Proctors CEO Philip Morris; Theresa Pardo, director of the University at Albany’s Center for Technology in Government; Schenectady City School District Superintendent Laurence Spring; and TW&A Principal Tom Wilson.
Little said he believes the commission is “a great bunch” and that each person will bring different skill sets to the table. The commission plans to meet for the first time in the next week or two.
“With that mix of people, we can do something really exciting,” he said. “We intend to schedule a meeting right away to get ourselves grounded with what’s already going on and then we will set up a rhythm to make sure we carry this forward in full effect.”
Little said the details of the commission’s responsibilities are not yet defined.
“There are lots of things we can do,” he said. “Our job is sorting out the priorities and what makes sense for the focus of the city.”
He said the idea is for the commission to establish wireless connectivity citywide, process information and give data to city departments to help increase efficiency and better manage resources.
“It may mean we can give information to students more effectively wirelessly through Wi-Fi,” he said. “It may mean we can communicate in a news area that people want to know more about. It may be we can provide access to health services more effectively. It may be that we provide information about what is going on in the city, like parking and the ability to get around.”
Little said he would take an office soon at the Center City building on State Street where Quirky spinoff Wink is located. Also using the space is Wise Labs, a company led by a group of GE retirees, who plan to build an innovation center there.
Little, who retired from GE in the fall, grew up in Boston but has lived in the area for 26 years. He said he plans to stay in Niskayuna, noting proudly that he now has a 3-month-old granddaughter, Sydney.
Little and his wife, Terri, are also focused on giving back to the community through the Little Family Foundation. She also serves on several local charity boards in the area, including the Schenectady Foundation.
Since 2005, Little served as GE’s technology head and senior vice president of GE Global Research in Niskayuna. He was the ninth director of Global Research in the company’s history.
Little said Schenectady’s Smart City Advisory Commission is only the beginning of a number of things he is looking to accomplish.
“I’m just getting started,” he said. “I hope to be doing a number of more things in the social world and looking at the business world as well. Some things will be in Schenectady but throughout the world as well.”