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New York Power Authority Creates a New Data Culture

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

New York City panorama skyline at sunrise. Manhattan office buildings / skysrcapers at the morning. New York City panoramatic shot.
Special Districts Year In Review Virtual Summit – Register Now

The New York Power Authority (NYPA), the largest state public power utility in the United States, is expanding its use of data analytics to gain new insights from operational information. NYPA recently launched a data analytics platform that provides clean and normalized enterprise data gathered from a variety of sources across the organization. The platform gives data scientists, engineers and other users a common source of data for creating predictive models, visualizations, reports, dashboards and other valuable tools. It’s a key element of a broader data analytics program that’s changing data culture at NYPA.

Learn more about NYPA’s data initiative Nov. 3, when Ron Carroll, the authority’s vice president of product development, data management and enterprise architecture, joins our next Special Districts Virtual Summit. Carroll will be part of an extensive line-up of special district leaders and industry experts who’ll break down how technologies, management techniques and leadership strategies are evolving – and what all of it means for your organization’s future.
Service Delivery Evolves

Special districts are evolving how they serve constituents – implementing changes that are likely to last far longer than the current public health crisis. Nominations recently submitted to our 2021 Special Districts Awards Program show the transformation underway at two districts.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority recently expanded the self-service options available on its website, enabling residents to purchase parking permits, dispute tickets and set up payment plans using online tools and virtual hearings. The authority also began using cloud-based webinar software to host monthly virtual town hall and board meetings that are open to the public. These efforts give residents new ways to transact and engage with the authority virtually, strengthening resilience and improving convenience, too.

The Quincy Housing Authority in Massachusetts took a different approach. The authority installed video displays in lobbies of its housing complexes for elderly and disabled residents, creating a new channel to communicate with residents about vaccination schedules, meal delivery, special events and more. In addition, kiosks were installed at apartment complexes operated by the authority, giving residents a new resource for scanning documents and emailing material to the authority, applying for services, accessing the internet and contacting housing authority staff.
You’ll hear more about how service delivery is evolving – and find out which districts won 2021 Special Districts Awards – at our Nov. 3 Special Districts Virtual Summit. You can also check out our 2020 award winners here.

More Insights from the Crisis

Our 2020 Annual Report provides an in-depth look at how special districts coped with unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — and it offers a roadmap for future resiliency and success. In all, the report includes insights, best practices and innovative ideas from 20 districts that participated in Special Districts Program events and workgroup calls throughout 2020. It's packed with real-life examples of how special districts delivered critical services amid a year filled with uncertainty:

  • The Houston Airport System accelerated deployment of biometric identity systems to provide touchless security screenings.
  • The San Antonio Water System in Texas is developing new performance metrics to manage remote employees.
  • The Wilmington Public Library District in Illinois installed smart lockers to safely deliver materials to library patrons.
  • The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Maryland instituted virtual inspections for new plumbing and gas fixtures.

Read their stories and find out how the pandemic is permanently reshaping workforce, service delivery and leadership strategies. Get your copy today.

District Spotlight: Drones for Bridge Inspection

The New York State Thruway Authority is launching a pilot program that will use drones to perform safety inspections on bridges and other highway infrastructure. The authority, which manages more than 570 miles of toll roads in the state, will partner with the nonprofit Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance on the project.

"Using drone technology to inspect bridges, overpasses and infrastructure along our entire system is an imaginable game-changer," Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said in a statement. "Drones can provide views of hard-to-reach locations quickly and safely. This pilot program aligns with the Thruway's vision of maximizing technological innovation and continuing to improve infrastructure for the future."

If the program is successful, the authority could expand the role of drones to assist with mapping and surveying the highway system, cataloguing thruway inventory and infrastructure, documenting damage and repairs, and supporting general maintenance activities.

Read more about the project.

More Articles Worth a Read

Here are more stories from special districts around the country. Share your own news with us for inclusion in the next newsletter.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is poised to make millions by selling excess broadband capacity. The Turnpike Commission is working with a private partner to market surplus network bandwidth created by two recently completed fiber optic installations.

New York State Electric and Gas will use artificial intelligence to predict which area will lose power during a storm. The utility is working with researchers at two universities to develop the new prediction tool.