Upstate New York Cities Collaborate with Tech to Combat Blight

Schenectady, N.Y., like many cities across the country, has struggled with blighted buildings. There are between 900 and 1,000 of them in the city of roughly 66,000 residents, and such a high number will have a troubling impact on economic development and property values, while also presenting a safety hazard for other properties nearby, said John Coluccio, Schenectady’s signal superintendent.

Squatters in these abandoned houses often start fires that can spread. Demolishing the structures, however, is also a costly prospect. Basically, for local government the best course of action is to reduce the number of buildings that become blighted at all.

To do this, Schenectady has joined with a number of other cities in upstate New York, as well as with a key academic partner, on a collaborative project, the roots of which date back to 2015. The other cities are Amsterdam, Gloversville and Troy, and the partner is the University of Albany’s Center for Technology in Government. This cooperative work is part of a pilot program that aims to share critical code-enforcement data that the participating governments are hopeful will enable them to take a more proactive approach to the problem.

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Victoria Krisman is Interactive Media Specialist for the Intelligent Community Forum.
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