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Streetlights project wins Syracuse innovative city award

Citizens walk across the street away from a brick building.
Katie Zilcosky
Syracuse City Hall sits at 233 E Washington St. in downtown.

The City of Syracuse has earned top honors in a North American award competition for effectively utilizing innovation and technology to maximize new services and economic opportunities to city residents.

As 1 of 3 finalists in the sustainable infrastructure division — which recognizes progress in smart water, lighting, waste collection and environmental monitoring — Salt City was picked as the winner through an open online vote.

Syracuse had a few innovative breakthroughs prior to the award. The city completed the conversion of its street light networks to LED lights in 2020, which saved nearly $3 million in energy and maintenance costs a year, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 8,500 tons a year — the equivalent of taking more than 1,600 cars off the road.

The streetlights are also outfitted with SMART controls that provide programmed dimming ability, energy metering and fault monitoring.

Syracuse beat outSan Jose and Riverside, California, Two cities placed first in the Administration category, Schenectady was the only other city in New York State selected as a finalist.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at