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Saratoga Springs to improve broadband access under new plan

Saratoga Springs to improve broadband access under new plan

Saratoga Springs will improve public broadband internet access in the city and making other technolo
Saratoga Springs to improve broadband access under new plan
Malysa Cheng of Schenectady, left, and Larissa Winkler of Kingston dine on the patio at Cantina on Broadway in Saratoga Springs in 2013. A new initiative aims to improve public broadband internet access in the city, with the goal of supporting economic...
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The city will improve public broadband internet access in the city and making other technology improvements under a new plan being presented Tuesday.

The "Smart Cities Roadmap 1.0" will be unveiled at a 7 p.m. City Council meeting, outlining plans to upgrade publicly available broadband and increase use of technology in medicine, public safety and education.

This is the first report from the commission, which was named in February by Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, as part of a "Smart Cities" initiative.

"This is one of the things we have to do to stay competitive," Madigan said. "There's definitely an economic development aspect to this."

Madigan said the plan will build on existing broadband infrastructure, with the goal of supporting economic development and enhancing the quality of life in the city.

“Addressing infrastructure needs - fiber, cable, WiFi - lays the foundation of a Smart City," Madigan said.

She said the city is spending about $15,000 this year on developing the plan and will spend about the same amount next year.

But in 2018, Madigan has tentatively budgeted $1 million in the city capital plan to pay for technology upgrades. "It's just a placeholder. We may never bond that amount," she said Monday. "There are no specific projects."

While the long-term goals include improved public access to the internet throughout the downtown, Madigan said there are also inexpensive short-term projects for 2017.

They include surveying businesses about their broadband capacities and needs and launching a "Saratoga Go" contest to develop a new local or regional internet application.

"It could appeal to students or even adults," Madigan said. "It's a lot of cool stuff. It's about becoming a connected community."

Areas of focus will include better public access, new education and training initiatives, environmental sustainability and intelligent infrastructure.

The members of the commission are Saratoga Springs School District Assistant Superintendent David L’Hommedieu; Saratoga Hospital Vice-President and Chief Information Officer John Mangona; Saratoga Springs Public Library Computer Services Manager Donald Flinton; Skidmore College CIO William Duffy; Empire State College CIO Christopher Markham; National Grid Program Manager Kimberly Ireland; city Director of Information Technology Kevin Kling; Matt Jones and Todd Shimkus from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; Todd Garofano and Tom Newkirk from the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and members at large Art Ware, Tim Holmes and Christopher Thompson. The committee worked with NYSTEC of Albany, a technology consulting firm.

"A smarter Saratoga Springs will be more productive and more efficient," Madigan said. "It will provide a better experience to our visitors and will offer a higher quality of life for our residents. It will encourage students to stay, or to return, after graduation, and it will enable us to stay competitive with other cities."

"In short, a smarter Saratoga Springs will drive business, open doors, and create new opportunities," she concluded.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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