Smart City technology is rapidly changing the world and becoming part of our customary urban landscape. Chatty trash cans, smart street lights, and super-fast free Wi-Fi stopped being just a dream, and, today, the New York citizens can enjoy all these innovative solutions daily. But how is it possible to implement Smart City technologies during COVID-19?

Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus situation has made further financing of local systems and services by the government more difficult. However, in times of economic uncertainty, it is much easier to lessen operating costs and improve residents’ lives using specific Smart City solutions. Check out seven innovative technologies implemented by New York during COVID to ensure Smart City technology really works.

1. Smart Local Connectivity

Smart cities aren’t considered to be just a concept. It is our future, and thanks to the ground-breaking Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, cities like New York, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Singapore, San Francisco, and Vancouver are already growing expeditiously, even during the COVID times. Thus, for example, local governments of New York State have implemented smart local connectivity to help people avoid contacting each other while paying municipal bills and property taxes. Such a system allows making payments via electronic bank-to-bank transfers, debit, and credit cards much faster and more efficiently.

Besides, New York residents have gained the opportunity to use smart parking solutions. What does it mean? Now, people can pay for parking through mobile or touchless payment options instead of coin parking meters. This allows reduced chances to get infected with coronavirus and lessens the time spent processing payments for deposit.

In addition, the Smart Connectivity of New York includes interactive online communication, which implies the development of contacts within the community. Thus, residents can make direct service requests or send questions to specific municipal departments without leaving their own apartment. Moreover, local governments in New York State have also established Facebook and Twitter profiles to post weather warnings, emergency alerts, and local news.

2. Enhanced 911 System

The implementation of Enhanced 911 (E911) services in New York State has become one of the recent Smart City solutions. Thanks to this system, emergency dispatch centers can define the caller’s exact location using the GPS on the caller’s smartphone only. Thus, police, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency responders, can locate people faster, saving precious time. Moreover, this technology is considered to be more reliable than verbal communication over the phone.

COVID-19 has increased the need for rapid responses, as every second counts when it comes to saving people’s lives. Therefore, E911 has become that Smart City solution, which has fulfilled its mission 100%.

Another fantastic technology that is made for managing emergencies is drones. These pilotless aerial vehicles, equipped with cameras, sensors, and GPS, help local governments to deal with the following issues:

  • capturing and collecting data from locations that are difficult to access;
  • tracking lost citizens;
  • finding fleeing suspects;
  • managing emergencies;
  • locating stolen vehicles,
  • reconstructing vehicle accidents, etc.

For example, several towns on Long Island use drones to monitor construction and track its development.

3. Smart Street Lightning

Smart street lighting represents potential cost savings for many local governments. Upgrading old high-pressure sodium street lights with new LED technology provides immediate energy conservation. Moreover, the installation of smart dimmers and timers can further reduce energy costs by dimming or brightening lights depending on the city’s area.

Thus, in November 2020, the City of Syracuse, New York, installed 17,500 power-saving LED streetlights throughout the city. Regardless of the project costing local authorities an impressive amount of money, it allowed the city to save over $3 million from the yearly budget. Besides, this Smart City solution reduces greenhouse emissions by approximately 8,500 tons a year.

4. Public Wireless Internet

Internet access is crucial for economic development. Moreover, it has become an essential component of education and health care and ensures public safety. Today, New York State residents have access to free super-fast Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, and a tablet to access city services via LinkNYC. Some public libraries suggest a free connection to the internet with devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets. You can find online charging kiosks that enable internet connectivity in Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. As for the unserved rural areas, New York State has committed to bringing universal broadband access to all citizens.

5. “Green Wave” Project

COVID-19 showcased how difficult it is to travel around a big city like New York without any risks of getting infected. However, the “Green Wave” project, implemented by the local government, can help residents to solve this issue once and forever. This plan implies the development of corridors for cycling in community districts of NYC till the end of 2021.

To implement this Smart City solution, the NYC government has committed about $58.5 million in new funding over the next five years. Currently, the project is on the stage of planning and design, however, DOT plans to install over 80 miles of protected lanes by 2021. Brooklyn and Queens were identified as Bike Priority Districts, so DOT has committed to building 75 miles of bicycle infrastructure in these districts by 2022.

6. Cybersecurity

With the rapid growth of Internet technologies, cyber threats can chase us at any moment. The digitization of the global economy has created fantastic opportunities, as well as increased risk from cyberattacks. However, the government can destroy these attacks by implementing a strategy for cybersecurity improvement.

New York can become the center of the world’s cyber ecosystem that will unite the cyber workforce’s best representatives. With this Smart City technology’s growth, the economic situation will improve, and New Yorkers will get more opportunities. Today, there is an unprecedented opportunity to meet the cybersecurity challenge, and thanks to Cyber NYC, this plan can be implemented in the nearest future.

7. Smart Industrial Control Systems (ICS)

Smart Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are not the most visible technologies for residents, nevertheless, they are crucial for the Smart City concept. Once local governments upgrade old energy, water and wastewater systems with innovative infrastructure solutions, they will be able to conserve resources and spending.  

New York State started to use new meters with electromagnetic or ultrasonic sensors to detect leaks and broken lines promptly. Besides, thanks to this Smart City solution, the city can provide more accurate billing and even real-time water usage information on the local portal. 

As for the sewer systems, there was a decision to equip sewer utility holes with monitoring sensors to detect an elevated water level in the sewer pipe. Due to these tools, the department staff will be alerted about potential problems beforehand. New York City is piloting such sensors throughout the city, as it is the perfect solution for its combined sewer systems, which can cause the overflow of untreated sewage on streets and into nearby water.

 

Thanks to these Smart City solutions, there is a chance to bring financial benefit to the city even during tough COVID-19. Even if the next budget cycle seems bleak, Smart City technology’s innovative opportunities will surely improve the community’s quality of life.