Holyoke, Mass. gets networked in proof-of-concept project

Cisco Systems and the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts announced Wednesday an urban renewal strategy built on an Internet-based, connected community model intended to fuse vital parts of the city’s government and economy. The proof-of-concept, technology-infused renewal program is the latest investment by Cisco to turn Holyoke into a hub of innovation for the western half of Massachusetts and the region.

Last fall, Cisco was among a host of city officials, academics and tech industry leaders to announce the development and planning of a Green High Performance Computing Center (GHPCC) in Holyoke. The public-private partnership was designed to show how an industrial-based economy could be driven by green technology, clean energy and scientific development.

The latest announcement will position Holyoke as the first Smart+Connected Community in the United States, creating a flagship innovation district downtown. The Smart+Connected Community model seeks to improve education, healthcare and streamline collaboration among city, state and regional officials with their citizens. The modernization project seeks to generate economic activity and bolster population retention through redevelopment that can be eventually rolled out to other parts of the city’s neighborhoods, officials said.

“We share a common vision to use the network as the platform to create a more collaborative and sustainable environment for the citizens of Holyoke,” Wim Elfrink, chief globalization officer and executive vice president for Cisco, said in a statement. “We are honored to collaborate with Mayor Pluta and the city of Holyoke to establish the 21st century neighborhood as an inspirational model for cities seeking to transform themselves through revitalization.”

Other examples of Smart+Connected Communities can be found in Cleveland’s OneCommunity, Toronto’s Waterfront revitalization and a project at Hunters’ Point in San Francisco. But the Holyoke project is the first attempt to combine Cisco technologies with redevelopment strategies across an entire city.

Holyoke Mayor Elaine Pluta said Cisco’s next-generation solutions will help the city attract and create better opportunities for residents. “We view the joint initiative with Cisco as a way of giving back to our citizens and ensuring that future generations can also enjoy a thriving and sustaining community that they are proud to call home,” she said.