A “Smart Cities Roadmap 1.0” – also known as the Smart City Plan – has recently been revealed by the Smart City Commission in Saratoga. The group is going to significantly improve broadband access in the city, but that’s not all.
Photo credit: Saratoga Photographer
Smart City Plan Overview
The Smart City Plan is going to advance technology in education, medicine, public safety, and other areas, in addition to improving access to high speed internet for everyone.
The group’s vision is to drive business to Saratoga, improve quality of life for residents, provide a better experience for visitors, and to have the city be more productive and efficient overall. In other words, the Smart City Plan is intended to better the lives of those who live, work, and visit Saratoga.
“This is one of the things we have to do to stay competitive,” Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan told The Daily Gazette. “There’s definitely an economic aspect to this.”
Saratoga is planning on spending roughly $15,000 on the Smart City Plan this year, and about the same in 2017; $1 million has been budgeted for 2018, although that number has been described as a placeholder and may change.
The roadmap of the plan is divided into the following categories: Intelligent Infrastructure, Better Public Services, Connected Community, Education and Training, and Environmental Innovation.
The intelligent infrastructure is all about the better broadband access.
“It’s not a question of if we do this, it’s when we do this,” Smart City commission member Tom Newkirk said at a recent meeting, reports WAMC. According to Newkirk, all residents and businesses need to be connected to high speed internet.
“The high speed internet is going to be required as to how we monitor our health, our homes, how we educate and entertain our children and ourselves, it’s about our future,” he added.
The Smart City Plan intends to make Saratoga “one of the Top Five cities in Upstate New York to offer broadband speed universally accessible to businesses.”
An app competition is also being considered, where students, entrepreneurs, and other tech savvy individuals will be able to come together to solve problems identified by the commission.
Improved broadband access is arguably the most important element on the agenda, as advanced technology in general is threaded throughout the entire Smart City Plan.
Additional Aspects of the Plan
The Smart City Plan is incredibly well thought out and complex, but here are a few of the highlights:
Better Public Services – Ensure a safe city with low crime rates, allow first responders to utilize better technology, increase productivity of government agencies, and further bolster tourism.
Connected Community – Make technology more readily available and encourage innovation through community groups and events.
Education and Training – Expand educational resources to help prepare students to become efficient workers, go beyond the classroom to open opportunities in the community, and better technology systems in schools.
Environmental Innovation – Coordinate efforts throughout government, private, and nonprofit organizations to preserve the environment and advance the use of natural resources; develop a Climate Action Plan; and help landowners conserve farmland, woodlands, and natural habitats.
There are actually many smaller projects already in the works as part of this larger plan. For instance, a Spa Solar Park is currently being developed to provide a large proportion of Saratoga’s power need, which would fall under the Environmental Innovation category.
With the plan now in place, the commission just needs to carry it out.
“We don’t want the plan to sit on the shelf,” Saratoga Mayor Joanne Yepsen said at a recent meeting, reports WAMC. “We want to get the goals enacted.”
The Smart City Commission will be meeting quarterly to consider options and discuss funding opportunities.