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Ex-GE tech chief Little to lead 'smart cities' commission

Ex-GE tech chief Little to lead 'smart cities' commission

A former General Electric executive and the state of New York's ex-chief technology officer are part
Ex-GE tech chief Little to lead 'smart cities' commission
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy today (Jan. 11, 2016) announces the appointment of Schenectady's 'Smart City Advisory Commission,' which will be chaired by Mark Little. Pictured left to right in the back are commission members Little, Tom Wilson, Kisho...
Photographer: Marc Schultz

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A former General Electric executive and the state of New York's ex-chief technology officer are part of a commission appointed by Mayor Gary McCarthy to make the city of Schenectady "smarter."

McCarthy appointed an eight-member “Smart City Advisory Commission” today that will work to incorporate technology into public safety, health care, education and the delivery of services.

“Smart cities is a broad term, and when you look across the country and around the world, communities are doing different projects under the ‘smart cities’ label,” McCarthy said during a press conference at City Hall this morning.

QUOTABLE

'His remarkable career at GE has helped make the world a better place to live.'

-- Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, on commission chief Mark Little

Mark Little, GE’s former chief technology officer and head of GE Global Research, will lead the commission. Little, a Niskayuna resident, worked for GE for 37 years before retiring in the fall and plans to move into office space soon at Center City on State Street.

“He brings a global perspective with a local focus,” McCarthy said of Little. “His remarkable career at GE has helped make the world a better place to live. Mark’s leadership and the team at Global Research have produced leading edge, world-changing technologies.”

Also on the commission is Kishor Bagul, who left his state chief technology officer position in May and is the founder and CEO of consulting firm Cloud and Things in Loudonville.

Other members of the commission are 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 Larry Spring; and Tom Wilson, the head of TW&A, a construction management company in Schenectady.

“I’m delighted to be working with this commission,” Little said. “We have some fantastic people who come from technology, arts, media, academia, business and government backgrounds. They have lots of experience and real passion.”

Little said part of the commission’s focus would be to establish wireless networks throughout the city with applications, such as cameras and Wi-Fi, and corresponding software.

Little said the commission will meet for the first time sometime next week to discuss specifics of its “smart city” initiative.

“The world is moving fast,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that Schenectady stays at the forefront of that move to make the city more fantastic.”

The Smart City Advisory Commission intends to build on the city’s relationships with Quirky spinoff Wink, along with Cisco, GE, Verizon and Wise Labs, McCarthy said.

In October, Wink and Wise Labs installed LED lights on the first floor of Schenectady City Hall, and Wink established its hub and a voice-command device that could be used to control the building’s lighting, security and temperature.

As part of that announcement, Cisco replaced streetlights on Jay Street in front of City Hall that have LED lights, security cameras and Wi-Fi.

McCarthy also noted the city’s partnership with Amsterdam, Gloversville and Troy through UAlbany’s Center for Technology in Government to create a standard for code enforcement data to help fight urban blight.

Schenectady also entered into an agreement with Transfinder and Zonar over the summer to install GPS devices in city vehicles, including garbage trucks and snow plows, to map more efficient routes and help cut costs.

“We’re excited about beginning,” Little said. “We have lots of work to do to understand the foundations of what is already here. We want to shape the path forward to get the city at the forefront of smart technologies.”

Bagul said he believes the “smart city” initiative will create opportunities for city residents and make Schenectady a better place to live.

“This will help to solve problems for the homeless and entrepreneurs and businesses that want to grow,” he said. “There are tons of opportunities to make a better city, a safer city and a healthier city.”

DeAugustine said one of the commission’s missions will be to keep city residents informed and to provide access to information that might not currently be available to them.

“Any time the city is going to invest in technology to improve the standard of living, that’s where the Gazette wants to be,” DeAugustine said. “We also want the opportunity to be part of the conversation when it comes to information.”

During the press conference today, McCarthy electronically signed the executive order creating the commission. He said he believes it marked the first time an executive order had been signed electronically in the history of the city.

According to the executive order, the commission is charged with “the responsibility to evaluate, review and assess opportunities, products, processes and emerging technologies to enable it to make recommendations to the mayor as to better guide Schenectady’s smart city initiatives.”

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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