Microsoft Joins Syracuse Surge to Create the Northeast’s Premier Smart City

Hack Upstate
Nov 7 · 4 min read

We’ve told you before about how much we’re looking forward to the new Syracuse Surge initiative, but a new partnership has us even more excited to see what’s next for our city.

The City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Syracuse University’s iSchool, have partnered with Microsoft to make our home its first Smart Cities technology hub in the northeast!

This is a multi-year partnership that will propel forward the goal of Syracuse Surge, which is to stimulate economic growth in a place that was left behind by the last industrial revolution led by technology, according to Mayor Ben Walsh, who put forth the initiative earlier this year.

It will improve city services and quality of life in neighborhoods, with a particular focus on the South Side, which historically has been neglected when it comes to new development.

Leveraging Microsoft’s cloud services, the four organizations have already begun working on Smart Cities development, research, and training on projects that aim to improve public safety, energy usage, job creation and economic development, and accessibility for those with disabilities. These projects will be their main focus for the next year.

How is the iSchool involved? Several members of the school’s faculty have experience and specialty in research on smart energy use and smart cities, data science, artificial intelligence, and the IoT, all of which will be invaluable to the initiative’s progress. They also teach courses to students working toward a data science minor and master’s degree in applied data science. It’s safe to say they’re pretty experienced in the arena!

But it’s not all about the faculty. Students have the opportunity to get involved as well.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the iSchool, Arthur Thomas, said in a press release that students would gain hands-on experience through working with the initiative.

“This opportunity will help students across Syracuse University to gain new levels of career experience through application of these technologies in real-world community projects,” he said.

“Our students will have a unique opportunity to prepare themselves for their future careers while contributing meaningful solutions to community issues that will bring about the digital transformation of the City of Syracuse.”

Syracuse Surge is a $200 million project focused on positioning the city as New York’s leading smart city. Projects that were initially laid out when the plan was announced in January included renovations for Central Tech, turning it into a STEAM-focused high school, and the expansion of adult vocational training programs at the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center.

What we’re most excited about, of course, is that among some of the first improvements being made in the Syracuse Surge is The Tech Garden! This is home not only to Hack Upstate, but also several of our partners, events focused on tech education, and our coding bootcamp, Careers in Code.

In 2020, folks can expect additional floors at the business incubator, which will offer increased capacity to house innovative startups and even more amazing events.

Microsoft will also be opening a physical space in the South Side to provide training and education to those committed and who want to be involved in Syracuse Surge, closing the “skills gap” that exists locally in the tech sector. Having a stronger talent pool will give Syracuse a leg up on the competition when it comes to attracting companies to the area.

The tech giant will work with local partners in the upstate region “to deliver a broad curriculum of technology and digital literacy programs to local non-profits, community centers, educational institutions, employment and workforce development organizations, and businesses,” according to the City of Syracuse.

Microsoft’s plans for its part of the partnership also include hosting an Innovation Summit in the first half of 2020, supporting research and development into an AI strategy for the city, helping local businesses with digital transformation and technical training, and working with the city to develop a digital ethics policy for the “responsible deployment of new technologies.”

The partnership with Microsoft is an exciting step forward for the Surge vision. We can’t wait to see the innovative ideas that these incredible groups come up with, and how Hack Upstate and Careers in Code can contribute to the collaboration in the areas of economic and workforce development and education.

We wholeheartedly support this mission and have been fortunate to partner with many of the parties involved.

“We’re excited about how this partnership can build on the vision of Syracuse Surge and the successes happening in the region. The initiative complements our mission well,” said Hack Upstate Co-Founder Jesse Peplinski. “We have similar objectives to advance the local economy and prepare people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, particularly in impoverished communities.”

Hack Upstate Co-Founder Doug Crescenzi also added, “We strongly believe that strategic partnerships and collaboration between the public and private tech sector are critical to the region’s growth. We’re fortunate to have the right leadership to make a long-lasting impact on the region’s tech community and economy.”

You can learn more about the efforts here and here.

Hack Upstate

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Advancing Upstate New York's tech community through events and education. &&

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