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Empire State Development Announces $1 Million Awarded to Seven Smart Cities to Develop Innovative Technological Solutions to Municipal Challenges

Projects to Address Municipal Issues in Context of Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Glens Falls, Jamestown, New York City, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Southampton and Syracuse Awarded Funding for Innovative Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Government Operations and Resident Services

Part of Smart Cities Innovation Partnership with Israel Innovation Authority (IIA)

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced $1 million in funding has been awarded to seven New York cities to develop innovative public-private partnerships that will use technology to address pressing municipal challenges, particularly as New York builds back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. The cities, which have been awarded funding through New York State’s Smart Cities Innovation Partnership - a collaboration between ESD, the Technology & Innovation Portfolio in the Governor’s Office, and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) - will connect with technology companies and academic experts throughout the state, using emerging technologies to improve government services and resident quality of life. IIA will provide up to $1 million in additional funding for Israeli companies that are competitively selected to support funded projects. The Partnership, which was first announced during Governor Cuomo’s July 2019 solidarity and trade mission to Israel, will foster solutions to municipal problems in the context of building back better from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has had an enormous impact on the day-to-day lives of New York residents and the importance of municipal government services.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “New York's cities have long been sources of collaboration, ingenuity and opportunity, and the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership activates the private sector to provide inventive solutions to civic challenges that affect so many New Yorkers’ day-to-day lives, particularly as we continue to fight a global pandemic that has had enormous impact on municipal operations and services. I look forward to seeing the new partnerships that will be created by this program, the technological solutions they will produce and their positive impact on residents throughout the state.”

Deputy Secretary for Technology & Innovation Jeremy M. Goldberg said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, technology has played a key role in the economic development of every region in New York. Now, our Smart Cities Initiative is helping bring smarter, more effective government to locations across the State. Not only will the projects funded through this program directly help the residents in each city, they will also help New York chart a path forward for supporting high-impact technology projects in our municipalities big and small.  Congratulations to each of the winning cities for advancing proposals that will assist New York State to build back better.”

Aharon Aharon, CEO, Israel Innovation Authority said, "Providing high-tech companies with the ability to perform pilots and validation programs for their innovative solutions is key to enabling the commercialization of cutting-edge solutions for the various challenges we all face. This joint collaboration provides Israeli companies with an important introduction to the US market as a whole and to New York State in particular. We are delighted to support Israeli tech companies in improving both government services as well as the quality of life for New York citizens. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s great friendship and commitment to the innovation links with Israel, especially in these challenging times and look forward to strengthening our technological ties with the State of New York."

Interested companies are now able to submit technological concepts and solutions to help participating cities tackle their specific challenges, with a strong focus on startups in New York State and Israel. Companies can learn more about the funded projects and apply to support one of them on the Smart Cities program website, with proposals due on September 1, 2020.

This partnership furthers the Governor’s commitment to helping the state’s cities and towns leverage technology for the public good and drive mutually beneficial trade partnerships between the New York and Israeli technology industries.

Companies are able to submit proposals that solve the locally-identified problems and opportunities within each chosen city, with IIA driving interest and submissions from industry-leading Israeli companies. By the end of 2020, projects will be chosen for funding and will be implemented in the municipalities in 2021. To review detailed briefs on each funded program or stay up to date on program information sessions, announcements, and key dates, interested technology companies, and others can learn more here.

The winning cities and projects are available below: 

Glen Falls (Capital Region)

  • $96,700 for Vertical Urban Farming: Develop and refine a self-contained, easily-replicable, scalable, and transferable vertical farming system, designed to grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and plants at site-independent locations year-round. Produce will support local restaurants, food banks, and other institutions.

Jamestown (Western New York)

  • $200,000 for Advanced Remote Water Meter Monitoring: Upgrade several thousand water meters with advanced water meter sensors to improve system reliability, share water information with residents, proactively identify water leaks, enable troubleshooting in real time with residents, and reduce travel/road time for customer field reps fixing water utility issues. The project is forecasted to substantially support low- and moderate-income residents.

New York City

  • $50,000 for Automated Mobility Counts: Pilot automated sensing hardware and computer vision algorithms to reduce time-intensive counts of people and vehicles in priority intersections. Automated data collection can be run through existing CCTV feeds or site-mounted sensors to collect continuous counts and other data in an accurate, flexible, and lower-cost method. The project will drive greater understanding of travel trends and improve safety.
  • $90,500 for a Real-Time Flood Monitoring Dashboard: Develop an online data dashboard for residents and researchers to access collected flood data, increase understanding of flood events, protect local communities, and improve resiliency. Sensors will be affixed to street infrastructure, public or private, and the dashboard will be publicly accessible online.

Saratoga Springs (Capital Region)

  • $100,000 for Connected Wi-Fi Street Lights: Convert city street lights into connected street lights to realize energy efficiency savings, deliver Wi-Fi for local public housing residents, and gather environmental data points on weather/air quality.

Schenectady (Capital Region)

  • $55,000 for Smart Remote Courts: Implement new technology to streamline court schedules and leverage secure videoconferencing for more efficient court appearances.
  • $22,000 for Emergency Medicine Triage: Pilot an emergency medicine triage system to appropriately diagnose and route cases onsite, before a resident makes it to the emergency Room. Deploy telehealth communications used by emergency medicine providers (e.g. emergency physicians or physician assistants), 911 dispatch, certified emergency medical technicians, and patients to triage a patient’s level of severity and appropriate next steps of care when an acute medical problem arises.

Southampton (Long Island)

  • $200,000 for Environmental Monitoring of Nitrogen Pollution: Remediate groundwater contamination around Lake Agawam via sanitary system upgrades, a permeable reactive barrier, and real-time sensors. Goals including installing a permeable reactive barrier to remove nitrogen pollution from groundwater, replacing polluting septic systems with innovative/alternative systems that emit low nitrogen, deploying a decision-making tool to minimize ocean release of toxic blue-green algae, and reducing public threat posed by blue-green algae.

Syracuse (Central New York)

  • $50,000 for Vacant Structure Monitoring and Inspection: Deploy smart building tech to monitor existing vacant structures. Goals include using sensors to monitor interiors (e.g., water damage, fire/heat, compromised doors/windows) and exteriors for code violations, making it easier and quicker for an inspector to identify safety issues at vacant buildings. The project will allow the city to proactively deploy inspectors to vacant buildings when remotely sensed.
  • $150,000 for Algae Bloom Monitoring & Treatment: Deploy unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to monitor Skaneateles Lake for Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs). Goals include effectively and efficiently collecting and testing water samples, visually/automatically mapping HAB formation, identifying the environmental factors that increase algae bloom generation, and deploying automated mitigations/treatments to reduce presence of HABs.

Glens Falls Mayor Dan Hall said, "On behalf of the City of Glens Falls, I wish to thank Empire State Development for their support of our Smart City Innovation project, the Urban Agricultural Pilot (UAP). By leveraging technology, local & regional partnerships, and ESD support, the UAP will demonstrate how small-scale urban food production can contribute to the economic development of Upstate communities by increasing efficiency, expanding availability, lowering costs and reducing emissions, all of which are important to building and maintain a strong, healthy community."

Jamestown Mayor Mayor Eddie Sundquist said, “I am beyond excited that the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities has been awarded a Smart Cities grant. It has been a chief goal of mine to make Jamestown a technology hub. By winning this extremely competitive grant, Jamestown is now a designated municipal testbed, which will make us an attractive destination for continued investment in smart cities technologies. I appreciate all the effort the BPU team made in researching, applying for, and collaborating with the City for this grant. The fast-tracking of this project due to these funds further shows the commitment of the BPU to be on the cutting edge of service.”

New York City Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer said, "New York City is excited to receive this grant and partner with the New York State Empire Development Corporation to pilot new technologies. These projects, which will serve the missions of the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYC Mayor's Office of Resiliency, enabling the City to gather and share data to improve quality of life for all New Yorkers. Whether it is understanding patterns of flooding throughout the City, or knowing how New Yorkers are using the streets to move around, the data will enable public servants to provide the information and deliver the infrastructure changes needed to best serve residents."

Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said, “Our goal for Saratoga Springs is to become a smarter city, one that promotes efficiency, economic development, and equality, empowering all citizens to succeed. The Governor’s Smart Cities Innovation Partnership program will enable us to pilot free public Wi-Fi, through connected street lights, in two locations: Vanderbilt and Jefferson Terrace Apartments, adjacent to the Saratoga Springs Recreation Center; and Putnam Street, between Lake Avenue and Spring Street—the heart of our downtown district. By embracing new, creative solutions such as connected street lights, we are helping ensure that the city operates more efficiently, attracts and encourages more businesses, and improves overall quality of life for our citizens—all while leveraging and enhancing the unique history and culture of Saratoga Springs.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, “The future of government infrastructure is more than pipes and pavement. It is building a cohesive wireless network and utilizing sustainable technology to lower the burden on residents through more efficient services while also improving their quality of life. The Governor's Smart Cities Innovation Partnership program will help us continue to build off Schenectady’s rich history of technological and innovative success by piloting two projects: Smart Courts, which will enable us to test the promise of improving court administration through technology; and Emergency Medicine Triage, which will help ensure that all citizens who call for emergency services receive a better patient experience in the most appropriate treatment setting—which may be in the convenience of their own home.”

Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren said, "We are proud to be part of the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership in order to improve water quality and the environment in Southampton Village. Our hard work and collaboration with the Lake Agawam Conservation and New York State is making a difference for our local community and ecosystem."

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “As New York’s flagship smart city, the City of Syracuse is thrilled to be selected by the State of New York as a municipal testbed for smart city technologies. The Smart Cities Innovation Partnership supports our Syracuse Surge strategy for inclusive growth in the new economy, and leverages private sector investment to test new technologies that will improve the quality of life for our community. We are thankful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for their support, and to our local research partners, Syracuse University and Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR), for their expertise and commitment to deploy innovative solutions to challenges within our City. By collaborating across government, industry, and the research community, we can catalyze economic growth related to these emerging technologies." 

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.


Adam Kilduff | [email protected] | (646) 901-9681

Kristin Devoe | [email protected] | (518) 292-5107

ESD Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313