Syracuse, New York Advances as New York’s Flagship Smart City
Smart City Accomplishments
Syracuse is investing in digital infrastructure and applications to serve a growing number of residents with more flexible and service-oriented solutions.
“We are transforming into a Smart City,” Bagchi said. “And we have achieved that with the steps we have taken. Syracuse was recently named by Tech Magazine in a list of top smart cities in America, along with the likes of major U.S. cities like Houston, Philadelphia, and Reno. Syracuse was also named New York’s Flagship Smart City by the New York Power Authority in 2019 for creating a digitally connected, LED-based streetlight network, with various sensors deployed to monitor conditions in the City such as road temperatures, water levels at creeks and catch basins, trashcan fullness, and safety concerns at vacant properties.”
Syracuse recently attracted global partners and philanthropic investments from firms such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Microsoft, funding programs to increase digital literacy and workforce development in high-tech sectors so that people of all backgrounds can thrive in the emerging tech economy.
Bagchi says the plan is to keep pushing and making progress on multiple fronts. For example, in 2019, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh launched the Syracuse Surge, an ambitious set of initiatives and partnerships across a diverse ecosystem of government, academic, and private sector institutions to catalyze inclusive growth in the new economy.
“Digital services are integral to how our government connects people to services. Our Digital Services team works on projects that improve our residents’ lives. At the same time, our team and Mayor Walsh’s Administration are driven by data-oriented decision making.”
A Massive Leap Forward
One way Syracuse invests in Smart City technology is by implementing SeeClickFix, the CivicPlus® 311 Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Syracuse used to rely on a straightforward calling system called SYRCityline for its 311-related needs. However, Bagchi reports that call center staff spent significant time on the phone with residents documenting service requests.
“We decided we shouldn’t be relying on phone calls and documenting service requests manually. We transitioned to CivicPlus last year. Now we can record immediate results. We are receiving approximately 10,000 requests every quarter.”
The City of Syracuse has one of the highest request totals of any city using the CivicPlus solution. For Bagchi, that means the tool is helping the city meet its goal of empowering residents to collaborate with leaders on community improvements.
“We are better positioned to market our service request portal and know that we are reaching residents by monitoring the volume of people using the service. Syracuse, despite being a medium-sized city, is very close-knit. If one person knows a resource exists and is working, their neighbors and network will likely follow. The tool’s success has helped us with word-of-mouth marketing of our Cityline platform.”
The Benefits of a Smart Solution for a Smart City
“With CivicPlus, we have quick turnaround times, and we can also be transparent with our progress.”
Staff can also better track and review which departments are utilizing the tool and making a significant impact with their utilization of the software, which provides more internal transparency.
“Everybody can see everybody else’s work, and that visibility has really worked well for us.”
He reports that the SeeClickFix 311 Citizen Relationship Management software has also been helpful in resourcing.
“We know exactly how many resources we need in specific departments. Resourcing, time, and transparency have been our biggest benefits.”
Customization and Ease of Use
To have more control, Bagchi reports the city uses the CRM system to sort what request categories need to be internal and which should be public facing.
“Our bulk order request category used to be internal,” he explained. “People had to call in, and the operator would put it internally into the system, but because we get so many of them and so many residents use it, we decided to make it public.”
Bagchi and his team are now getting more requests than ever, and staff members are resolving requests more efficiently, ensuring a scalable operation.
“The time staff spent on the phone is now spent on other critical tasks.”
The Power of a Flexible Solution
Bagchi values the collaborative relationship he has with CivicPlus.
“I talk with my customer success manager about product features and enhancements, and she will always talk to the product team to see what we can come up with. That is one of the things I like most about CivicPlus—their collaborative approach to solution enhancements. That is an attitude we love.”
Resident and Staff Adoption
Bagchi reports that his internal and external stakeholders are pleased with the CivicPlus Citizen Relationship Management system and the resident-facing SeeClickFix mobile app.
“The people who use it really love it, and they are using it every day,” he said. “The public works department uses the tool the most, then code enforcement. For residents, it is great that people can just open their phone, take and upload a photo, and submit a request for any services they need from the city. That has been game-changing because we did not have that ability two years ago.”
Those who have welcomed the change have expressed how helpful it has been to have an official process and transparency for everyone to see what is happening.
“We’ll continue getting more people on board, so, hopefully, we’ll get even more requests in the coming years,” said Bagchi. “The numbers speak for themselves.”