SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) The Syracuse University iSchool, the City of Syracuse, and Microsoft have formed an exciting new partnership.

Under the umbrella of the City’s “Syracuse Surge” initiative, the collaboration has already explored a series of high-impact, community-focused projects in education and training; public safety and security; accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities; and economic development and job creation.

Art Thomas is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the iSchool and Director of the iConsult Collaborative for City projects.

“Surge is really saying, how do we use technology to get better insight on how we spend money and how those resources are being deployed and to what extent we can make things more efficient,” Thomas tells NewsChannel 9.

This innovative initiative positions all three as collaborators in a hub for Smart Cities technology development, research, and training, and for advancing the City’s energy use, public safety, job creation, and wider economic development goals.

Many of the City Departments are gathering data but simply don’t have enough people or computing power to crunch those numbers into a useful format.

Aditi Agrawal is an iConsult Project Manager for the City of Syracuse projects.

She says, “We have the people, we have the right talents, we have the right resources thanks to Microsoft, we have the right set of tools to work with so the City can utilize their time to do other stuff that is more relevant for them.”

The iConsult teams use that Microsoft computing power to take the data and put it into easily readable dashboards.

Agrawal says, “You, I, or anybody here can look at those dashboards and in 10 seconds you’ll see what’s happening around the city, how are my departments performing.”

Thomas adds, “Our role we feel is to help the commissioners understand a little bit more about what these technology tools can give them and to be able to start doing some of the work.”

“I see the change happening,” Agrawal tells NewsChannel 9.

The parties are also seeking involvement from other public-and-private collaborators toward building a smarter, safer, and more economically prosperous Syracuse.

Representatives of all three organizations met recently at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

They explored the arrangement and outlined specific ways the multi-year collaboration can advance and reinforce their individual interests, while working to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of the Syracuse area, including the creation of new jobs tied to the information and technology economy.

Microsoft has had similar collaborations, like in Louisville, where they teamed up with the City and University to utilize data in helping improve services.