Syracuse, N.Y. — A trade publication that covers government technology recently counted Syracuse among its “rising smart city stars,” due to City Hall’s efforts to expand connectivity and digital accessibility.
StateTech Magazine listed Syracuse as one of its “Eight Smart Cities to Watch” last week.
Other cities on the list are Aurora, Ill., Coral Gables, Fla., Colorado Springs, Colo., Houston, Jacksonville, Fla., Philadelphia and Reno, Nev.
Early in his tenure as mayor, Ben Walsh established connectivity and digital access as critical to the city’s economic future. In January 2019, he launched his “Syracuse Surge” economic development strategy, aimed at attracting and growing tech-based companies here. That meant investing in infrastructure like 5G wireless.
In a segment on Syracuse, StateTech Magazine cited the city’s decision to purchase more than 17,000 streetlights early in Walsh’s administration and affix them with smart nodes. It also noted the city’s efforts to expand municipal WiFi with public hot spots and its partnership with Verizon to roll out new 5G cellular data technology.
The streetlight program has attracted the attention and support of the state. Last year, the New York Power Authority gave Syracuse a $500,000 grant for the streetlight project. The power authority named Syracuse the “flagship smart city” in New York.
Walsh told StateTech the pandemic has showed the importance of digital access. His two girls have been remote learning, he said, and he has twice been quarantined after potential exposures to Covid-19.
“I think about how challenging it is for us, and for me,” Walsh told the magazine. “It really hits home how much of a challenge it is for those in our community who don’t have the same resources, support and, frankly, the privilege that I have.”