In an interesting switch, a 113-year-old building in Albany, New York is being transformed into a “Smart Cities” hub.
What once served as the city’s center for train transportation will soon house companies that are developing technologies for cities in the future.
Smart city technologies include technologies that make cities safer, more efficient and resilient: smart devices and sensors, software that monitors and improves traffic flow and protects vital infrastructure (bridges, data centers, utility installations), and safeguards facilities, such as wastewater treatment plants.
IBM and Cisco rank at the top of smart city vendors, according to Navigant Research. They predict this new industry will grow from $6.1 billion in annual revenue last year to $20.2 billion by 2020.
Besides being a hub for research, the Smart Cities Technology Innovation Center will provide education and training. Many workforce training programs will benefit young people from urban environments and communities whose citizens are traditionally underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, they say.
The $30 million public/private initiative is led by the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. It’s a priority for Governor Cuomo’s Capital Region Economic Development Council, which is working to establish the state as a global leader in this emerging high-tech industry.
Since its inception in 2004, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY/ Albany (photo below) has gained international recognition as the first college devoted to nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanobioscience and nanoeconomics. More than 3100 scientists, engineers and students work there, along with many companies such as IBM, Intel, Samsung and Toshiba.
Another Capital Region Economic Development Council initiatives, finalized in July, will turn a former Kodak building into the Photovoltaic Manufacturing and Technology Development Facility. There, solar PV companies and researchers will have a place to develop prototype products and new manufacturing processes. It’s part of a $100 million initiative to attract solar jobs and companies to the Greater Rochester Area.
San Diego’s smart city public-private collaboration aims to increase its energy independence, while encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles.
Another smart city initiative is in Austria, where Siemens and partners are creating a living lab that tests designs and systems for intelligent cities of the future. Japan is also actively developing smart cities and the City Protocol Society is developing a full-fledged certification for smart cities based on best practices being developed around the world.