Saratoga Springs, New York (pop.
5,600 28,000), has launched a Smart City Commission, whose mission is to enhance telecommunications and help the city become a leader in high-speed Internet service.
The startup of the Smart City Commission, which held its first meeting in March, comes as Saratoga Springs pursues becoming a model Intelligent Community. City leaders have determined that the best way to acheive Intelligent Community status, is to join Next Century Cities (NCC), and to adopt the organization's six guiding principles:
- High-speed Internet is necessary infrastructure.
- The Internet is nonpartisan.
- Communities must enjoy self-determination.
- Broadband is a community-wide endeavor.
- Meaningful competition drives progress.
- Collaboration benefits all.
The Commission’s members include chief information officers from the city, library, hospital, school district, as well members of the city’s convention and tourism bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and local business community.
Learning From Other Communities
“It’s something I had been thinking about for about two years,” City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan told us, speaking about the Smart City Commission. A key task of the Commission will be to “fill out the questionnaire to ICF [Intelligent Community Forum] and develop a road map to becoming a Smart City,” she told us. “It seemed the best way to move forward on this project was to get a core group of stakeholders involved from the city.”
Membership in NCC will allow Saratoga Springs access to a network of knowledge from other cities that have the same desire to bring ubiquitous high-quality Internet access to their communities. The Intelligent Community Forum is a worldwide association of cities and regions dedicated to helping communities use information and communications technology to, among other things, address social problems and enhance the economic quality of local life.
Goal: Gig Speed, Wi-Fi For Now
Currently, Saratoga Springs has a franchise agreement with Charter Communications (formerly Time Warner Cable) with the ISP providing maximum Internet access speeds of 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) down and 10 Mbps up, Madigan said. She described those speeds as “not very fast,” adding, “We have very limited public Wi-Fi. It’s a problem.”
She went on:
“I am looking forward to the road map we develop as a first phase to planning to become smart and intelligent. I would like to become a Gig [1 Gbps] city, but cost is an issue. A good goal, at this point, could be 300 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up."
Road Map Key Item
Asked if Saratoga Springs is thinking about starting its own municipal network, Madigan responded, “Our road map will provide the city with how to do public Wi-Fi in various locations throughout the city.”
According to the Commission’s mission statement:
Broadband and Internet access at globally competitive speeds are no longer optional luxuries, but have become essential resources for residents, businesses, service providers and government.