Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy will appoint a “smart cities” commission next week and will announce details of his plan to make the Electric City more high-tech.
McCarthy, who last week was sworn in for a second term, will hold a press conference at City Hall on Monday morning to name members of the commission.
Mark Little, who served as General Electric’s chief technology officer before retiring from the post in September, is expected to chair the commission.
“I see this as taking advantage of some of the intellectual talent that exists within our community and the region to help position Schenectady for future growth,” McCarthy said Thursday.
McCarthy said the commission would work to make city services more efficient, cut costs and increase transparency.
'I see this as taking advantage of some of the intellectual talent that exists within our community.'
McCarthy first announced plans for the mayoral commission during his State of the City address after his swearing-in ceremony at Proctors on Jan. 1.
The commission will have eight members, but McCarthy declined to disclose them on Thursday.
“They will be the umbrella group and bring in other people who have expertise in other areas,” he said. “They will sound out different options Schenectady has moving forward and the direction we should go.”
The tech initiative would expand and enhance the city’s camera network to boost public safety. The street cameras also would be used to monitor parking, street maintenance and other activities.
“I want some of those to be opened more as a webcam so people can see the Greenmarket and other activities happening so there is more of a social network,” the mayor said. “Some of this is real-time data. Everybody wants to know what is happening in the moment.”
The smart-cities initiative would build off recent partnerships McCarthy has announced with Quirky spinoff Wink, along with Wise Labs and Cisco.
“The next-generation of wireless communication will allow the areas of public safety, delivery of health care and managing municipal services to be done more effectively and be less costly,” he said. “I want to better manage those resources and better deploy them.”
In October, Wink installed its technology and LED lighting in City Hall. Through the Wink hub, a building’s power, security and other systems can be controlled via an application.
Wink recently was sold to manufacturer Flextronics after Quirky filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Wink founder and Chief Technology Officer Nathan Smith said the company plans to stay and grow in Schenectady.
Also, Cisco installed six streetlights outside City Hall on Jay Street that have LED lights, security cameras and Wi-Fi. Another 36 high-tech streetlights will be installed on Union Street in the near future.
“It’s a multiyear project,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking to have this happen so we have a network in place over a substantial portion of the city over the next 36 months.”
Little, who likely will chair the mayor’s commission, had been GE’s chief technology officer since 2005. He also runs The Little Family Foundation, which benefits international and local charities.
“The commission will be fairly impressive,” McCarthy said. “I need people who can give us advice on the best path to follow. The commission will do that.”
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.