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Smart Cities Events Brave Snowstorms in Upstate New York

Schenectady’s smart cities initiative will be the subject of two forthcoming events unfolding at the same time this week, owing in part to the recent snowstorms in the upstate New York region.

(TNS) — The Schenectady, N.Y., Smart Cities initiative will be the subject of two events unfolding at the same time Tuesday night, thanks in part to the recent snowstorm.

National Grid and the city will co-host the first of four scheduled public open house-type events to brief the public from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. at Mont Pleasant Library.

At the same time, the City Council’s Finance Committee will discuss whether lawmakers should be given the authority to individually approve each contract related to Mayor Gary McCarthy’s hallmark initiative, adding an additional layer of oversight to the procurement process. 

The council meeting was originally scheduled for Monday night, but was pushed to Tuesday night because of the recent snowstorm.

City Council recently approved an additional $2 million in capital funding for the effort in next year’s budget, bringing total city allocations to $7 million in taxpayer money for the initiative. 

But lawmakers also sought additional clarity on how the funds are being spent. Once the City Council approves the capital spending, McCarthy can utilize the funds as he sees fit. 

So far, funds have largely been steered towards fiber optic cable — including $1.2 million in 2018, according to a budget breakdown the mayor provided to lawmakers during the recently-wrapped budget process. 

City Council briefly discussed tightening their oversight last month, but tabled the discussion. 

A keystone of the project is National Grid’s work to update 4,200 street lights to LED technology over a three-year period, a $7.6 million pilot project known as “Reforming the Energy Vision.”

The new units can be dimmed during off-hours or adjusted based on real-time data, efficiency measures expected to save the city between $370,000 and $380,000 annually on electrical costs.

But at the same time, the city is folding additional technological upgrades into the same banner.

Each of the new street lights contains sensor ports, and officials envision a network of sensors and wireless nodes, all carrying functions that can be utilized for everything from analyzing traffic volumes to monitoring air quality and detecting gunshots. 

The city is also expanding its Wi-Fi network and deployed a fresh round of cable into Mont Pleasant in September.

Additional public events are scheduled for: 

Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Electric City Barn.

Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Schenectady County Public Library.

Thursday, Dec. 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Walter Robb Auditorium, McClellan Street Health Center. 

©2019 The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. 

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