Plans are in the works, to make downtown Erie safer and smarter.

The city teamed up with the Erie Innovation District, founded by Mercyhurst University, to make the project happen.

The "Secure Smart City" pilot project will take shape on State street, between 6th and 12th streets, with Perry Square being the main focus, "Our intention has been to provide cyber security services, a new generation of white collar opportunities in the downtown district," said Karl Sanchack, CEO of the Erie Innovation District. "So what we're focusing on is creating a Secure Smart City, so in other words we're going to create a destination in Erie, Pennsylvania for secure cyber and connected services, the first of its kind in the world, Sanchack added.

The project will bring public Wi-Fi to Perry Square, and install energy-efficient LED lighting, to 66 poles in the area.

This July, they will also install two new poles in Perry Square, with state-of-the-art video surveillance, to increase security and even alert police to potential threats.

Erie Mayor Joe Schember says the project will help transform the city, by helping to drive economic growth, "One of my top priorities is more good, family-sustaining jobs. The jobs currently are high-tech jobs that are growing and this will bring those kind of jobs to Erie," said Schember. "It's very exciting, it also helps the police because they'll have much better cameras around town that document things, it will help the city's finances because it will cut the cost of lighting," Schember continued.

Another lead partner in the project is a company called Quantela, a global smart-city solutions and data analytics company.

Quantela has developed 30 smart cities world wide. They will analyze data collected from the cameras and LED lights to improve the quality of life for visitors to downtown Erie, "Parking, lighting, traffic, and security surveillance, these are typically some of the headline use cases we have implemented in most of these cities," said Krishna Brasad, Senior Director at Quantela. "Typically most cities look at lighting, parking, traffic as the three key areas they want to improve... to improve services to cities, reduce cost of operations, and also improve revenue," Brasad added.

In other cities like Las Vegas, they've been analyzing data to see how to improve traffic flow, and improve parking.

Leaders say this pilot program would transform Erie into a tech hub, a center of innovation which could attract businesses here which would then develop technology that could be adopted in cities around the globe. Technology that would improve traffic flow in cities, improve public safety, develop green energy solutions, and more, "So think parking apps, think traffic management apps, think waste management apps, green energy solutions, all of these things are possibilities in a smart city. How do you create them? How do you test them, determine what their value is, show them to the world? We can build them here and sell them elsewhere," said Sanchack.

Mercyhurst University is also playing a big role in the project. It has provided $300,000 in funding, to make it happen.

The work on the Secure Smart City Pilot Project is set to start in July.