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In fall 2019, the  iSchool joined with Microsoft, the City of Syracuse, and Onondaga County to form the Syracuse AI & Innovation Digital Alliance.

Aimed at advancing the Syracuse Surge initiative, this project puts iSchool students, faculty, and staff at the leading edge of efforts to use technology, data, and information to create and shape the economy and society of the future.

Syracuse is well-positioned to play a leadership role in these efforts. Named New York’s Flagship Smart City, the city and state are investing millions in the infrastructure, education, training, and research needed to position the area as a leader in the new economy. We take a look at this initiative, and how the iSchool’s role will be pivotal in its success, and the future success of our school and our graduates.

What is the Syracuse Surge?

The Surge is a multi-sector strategy for inclusive growth in the new economy, with the ultimate goal of modernizing Syracuse’s economy and positioning the city to leap into the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” based on connectivity and the Internet of things.

Syracuse.com reported Mayor Ben Walsh as suggesting that “it could be the biggest economic growth initiative ever proposed by city government.”

What does the Surge strategic plan entail?

The plan encompasses $200+ million of public and private investment to develop the south end of downtown Syracuse, which has lagged behind development efforts in other parts of the area. One major feature is the $90 million overhaul of Central Technical High School, which has sat vacant for over four decades and will now anchor the Southside Campus for the New Economy.

Other planned developments include massive data collection through a smart grid, an innovation hub and startup incubator, and a stronger public transportation system based out of the Centro Transit Hub.

What are the benefits of the Digital Alliance?

Planning and building a technology-led economy requires multi-sector collaboration.  The main benefits fall into the four categories of economic and workforce development, education, research, and thought leadership, according to a presentation from Our City, an official online publication of the City of Syracuse.

That includes growing the technology sector through a physical location and technical training, expanding educational outreach, adopting emerging technologies, and hosting an Innovation Summit, among other things.

What is the iSchool’s role in the partnership?

The University will provide local guidance to direct Microsoft’s resources to high-impact, community-led initiatives.  The iSchool in particular has much to offer and stands to benefit from additional partnership opportunities.  Students involved in the iConsult Collaborative and other experiential learning programs will be among some of the best equipped in the nation to further their careers in the new economy.

Additionally, the iSchool faculty’s expertise in the research on smart energy and smart cities, including the Smart Grid Research Center, as well as the application of data science and artificial intelligence to issues facing community stakeholders, will strengthen multi-sector efforts to prepare the city for growth and leadership in the new economy.

To learn more and stay up to date on the Syracuse Surge, visit ourcity.syrgov.net.