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Cisco kicks off smart city pilot program in Holyoke, Mass.

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Cisco is working with the city of Holyoke, Mass. to begin several pilot programs to help redevelop the city. On tap: smart security, education, healthcare and government.

Cisco on Thursday announced that it's working with the City of Holyoke, Mass. to begin several pilot programs to help redevelop the city.

The partnership plays into the city's "OneHolyoke" planning blueprint, which targets revitalization and sustainability. The first phase will focus on security for residents and improvement in education.

Holyoke, a city of about 40,000 people in western Massachusetts, is looking to attract employers and retain its residents. It recently broke ground on the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center, signaling its desire to move from an industrial town to a regional tech hub.

The Cisco deal is a chance for it to create an infrastructure around that goal.

In terms of safety, Cisco is working with police and fire departments to roll out an integrated radio interoperability system. The idea: make incident response smarter by allowing first responders to connect with each other and ultimately get a more effective dispatch of services. The Cisco tech -- its IP Interoperability and Collaboration System -- will also collect and transfer voice, video and data from residents who call in emergencies.

As for education, Cisco is deploying its WebEx collaboration tool -- traditionally used by businesses -- to augment after-school tutoring for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. It's also deploying telepresence to foster distance learning and continuing education for students at Holyoke Community College, which has two geographically separate campuses in the city.

Future phases of the project involve adding connectivity to "smart" work centers, healthcare services and public services to improve government efficiency.

"We are extremely excited to be working with Cisco to transform Holyoke into a modern, technology-driven city that residents can be proud to be a part of," said mayor Elaine Pluta in a statement. "The initial phase of pilot programs is just the first step for the city toward creating a more sustainable and collaborative environment for our citizens."

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure