Erie, Pa., Wi-Fi to Get a Boost From $500,000 Grant

A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will expand Erie's Secure Smart City Pilot — a project launched last year to help use data collection to better manage resources, fight crime and improve efficiency.

by Jim Martin, Erie Times-News / October 11, 2019
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(TNS) — Erie, Pa., might just have moved a step closer to smart city status with a $500,000 state grant to fund free public Wi-Fi access.

The announcement came Thursday from state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski.

According to the three Democratic lawmakers, the grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will expand Erie's Secure Smart City Pilot — a project launched last year to help the city use electronic data collection to better manage resources, fight crime and improve efficiency.

"I'm especially excited about how this program is going to make us a safer community," Harkins said. "I have been working with law enforcement for some time on this project, and this infusion of funding is going to enhance security in areas that are prone to crime."

"The theory behind smart cities is that they use information technology to capture data that can pinpoint exactly where resources are needed," Merski said.

Bizzarro said that by enabling the city to provide outdoor Wi-Fi access, the funding will lead to enhanced quality of life for residents.

In August, Erie City Council approved a professional services agreement with Quantela Inc. — a global data analytics company that is working with the city and the Erie Innovation District on technology-based projects — as part of a plan that would bring Wi-Fi to public spaces throughout the eight federal Opportunity Zone tracts in Erie.

The intention is to make those low-income areas more attractive for investment.

As part of the agreement, the city would pay Digital Alpha Advisors LLC, Quantela's investment partner, $30,000 a year for a 10-year period. In turn, Digital Alpha Advisors said it would make an initial investment of $506,000 to fund the initial rollout of the project.

At the time, Renee Lamis, Mayor Joe Schember's chief of staff, said the city would look to leverage the $506,000 investment from Digital Alpha Advisors to seek additional funding to support the project.

The grant is part of a package of $8 million in funding for 10 projects in counties affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. Although not a coal-producing region, Erie has lost jobs at the former GE Transportation plant, now owned by Wabtec, due to cuts in coal mining.

Erie might just have moved a step closer to smart city status with a $500,000 state grant to fund free public Wi-Fi access.

The announcement came Thursday from state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski.

According to the three Democratic lawmakers, the grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will expand Erie's Secure Smart City Pilot — a project launched last year to help the city use electronic data collection to better manage resources, fight crime and improve efficiency.

"I'm especially excited about how this program is going to make us a safer community," Harkins said. "I have been working with law enforcement for some time on this project, and this infusion of funding is going to enhance security in areas that are prone to crime."

"The theory behind smart cities is that they use information technology to capture data that can pinpoint exactly where resources are needed," Merski said.

Bizzarro said that by enabling the city to provide outdoor Wi-Fi access, the funding will lead to enhanced quality of life for residents.

In August, Erie City Council approved a professional services agreement with Quantela Inc. — a global data analytics company that is working with the city and the Erie Innovation District on technology-based projects — as part of a plan that would bring Wi-Fi to public spaces throughout the eight federal Opportunity Zone tracts in Erie.

The intention is to make those low-income areas more attractive for investment.

As part of the agreement, the city would pay Digital Alpha Advisors LLC, Quantela's investment partner, $30,000 a year for a 10-year period. In turn, Digital Alpha Advisors said it would make an initial investment of $506,000 to fund the initial rollout of the project.

At the time, Renee Lamis, Mayor Joe Schember's chief of staff, said the city would look to leverage the $506,000 investment from Digital Alpha Advisors to seek additional funding to support the project.

The grant is part of a package of $8 million in funding for 10 projects in counties affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. Although not a coal-producing region, Erie has lost jobs at the former GE Transportation plant, now owned by Wabtec, due to cuts in coal mining.

©2019 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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