The Technology that Powers New York City
An adventure into NYC’s hidden infrastructure
Living in New York City is a treasure hunter’s dream: even when you’re lost in the maze, you always find gold.
For the last year, I’ve lived in New York City, and I’ve learned so many amazing things about my new home. Amazing rooftops, secret bars, and more amazing dinners and snacks than I can ever describe. But I hadn’t explored the most iconic parts of New York City — until recently.
Siemens USA — the technology and manufacturing giant that powers the tech and energy systems in almost every building and landmark in every major city— recently took a small group of journalists and technologists (including me!) on an incredible tour of my city. The goal of the tour was to understand the hidden technology and infrastructure that powers NYC, including the Statue of Liberty,Arther Ashe Stadium, Carnegie Hall, and even the breweries of Brooklyn.
Here are a couple of the highlights and a few of the many things I learned from the tour:
The World Trade Center Memorial Fountains
Our first stop in the tour was The World Trade Center Memorial in downtown. The memorial is a miracle of engineering. Each of the two World Trade Center Memorial fountains filters 30,000 gallons of water per minute (controlled by Siemens and Delta Fountains automation tech). It takes 50 minutes for an entire Olympic-sized pool to go through both fountains. They can even filter out coins and other objects that fall in.
Another WTC Memorial fact: the outer panels of each fountain are made of metal, and sit directly in the sun. They should be scorching hot when you touch them, but instead they are cool to the touch, thanks to thousands of gallons of chilled water running through copper pies along the entire perimeter.
Craziest of all: all the controls for the fountain are operated in Florida, over a thousand miles away. There’s almost no delay thanks to the technology thatp powers the fountain.
Make sure to go visit this marvel next time you visit Manhattan.
The famed Carnegie Hall has some of the most acoustically perfect rooms in the world. I’m not just talking about Stern Auditorium (the main hall) — I’m talking about the practice rooms that students use to hone their musical craft.
The elevator shaft, for example, is separate from the building to prevent its vibrations from affecting the building. Only certain practice rooms (like the percussion room) have carpet. And the outside sound never penetrates these rooms — even the practice rooms with windows facing the busy Midtown streets. I couldn’t believe it.
The Statue of Liberty and New York City Skyline
The Skyline Dinner Cruise allowed us to see New York City from an outside perspective. The pictures speak for themselves.
The highlight, of course, was the Statue of Liberty — a landmark I haven’t visited since I was 5.
Siemens modernized the Statue of Liberty, especially the emergency rescue elevator system, as part of the U.S. National Park System’s Life Safety Upgrade Program.
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and Arthur Ashe Stadium
Early the next morning, Siemens brought the crew inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the USTA and the U.S. Open.
Years ago, rain delays made games threw U.S. Open schedules into disarray, so they installed two 1 million-pound roof plates that can retract at 25 feet per minute. Moving that much weight, of course, requires a serious amount of technology — specifically five 30 HP motors geared to a bull gear. It has rop break detection and redundancies to avoid a single point of failure, partially powered by a fiberoptic ring with Siemens Scalene X200 switches.
As a result of the engineering work, Arthur Ashe Stadium roof can handle hurricane force winds.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “Smart Cities” to save costs, increase efficiency, and improve quality of life, especially since I presented on the subject of smart cities and their future at the GITEX conference in Dubai.
I didn’t have a strong appreciation of the advanced engineering that goes into making this kind of technology possible. Siemens, for example, has built tech to detect air pollution precisely at different locations in a city in order to develop pollution forecasts; developed an artificially intelligent system for managing the heat, energy, and safety systems of large buildings; and even partnered with blockchain companies like LO3 Energy to give consumers control over what type of energy powers their homes (e.g. coal, solar, wind, nuclear).
Without this technology, city life would fall apart. And yet it’s so invisible that we take it completely for granted. But the next time you ride the subway, visit a concert hall, or even turn on a light switch, remember the underlying technology and software that is making it possible.
This post is sponsored by Siemens USA, because they are awesome and I love their technology.