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I-team finds innovative solutions to infrastructure issues

Ryan Delaney
WRVO News File Photo
Crews work to repair a water main break in Syracuse

Syracuse is on the leading edge of using technology to deal with ways to fix a crumbling infrastructure. It’s the work of the city’s so called I-team that is bringing new technology to central New York.

Making a dent in the number of burst water lines and tire busting potholes starts by figuring out where the problems are. And that’s what much of this new technology will do. For example, the city will start using something called a water main leak detection sensor, which listens to sound waves created when water lines start leaking. Mayor Stephanie Miner likes the idea of that.

“What these sensors will show is where our biggest leaks are, and we can start to fix those and do it a time when it doesn’t inconvenience as many people,” said Miner.

Other high-tech answers to fixing infrastructure include the street quality identification device, or SQUID, that can collect data on how bumpy roads are and take pictures of potholes and cracks. That information will all be mapped so repair crews know where to go.  

These and other data-driven technology type strategies were unearthed by the city’s I-team, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. Some are used in other cities; some are start-ups.

But the key, according to leader Andrew Maxwell, is the I-team simply has the time to just look. 

"This is a group that can think in a strategic way all the time. So that puts them in a position to think about new ideas -- what are new creative things we can do -- and adopt from other communities and put to work here in creative ways,” said Maxwell.

The I-team’s first task was infrastructure. When all these innovations are in place and working, the team will pivot to another topic by the end of the year.

"It could be public safety, it could be poverty, economic development, education.  It really could be just about anything,” said Maxwell.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.