A new leader in sustainability is investing in Poughkeepsie. Uncharted Power, a Dutchess County-based energy company, has announced several new initiatives to improve Queen City’s infrastructure in exciting new ways.
Starting in 2021, the first-ever implementation of the Uncharted System will take advantage of Poughkeepsie’s largest untapped resource: its streets and sidewalks. Uncharted Power’s founder and Hudson Valley native Jessica O. Matthews seeks to right the wrongs of the tech industry and set the Dutchess County community on the path to success.
“The problem isn’t just the lack of smart power infrastructure. The problem is everyone has been focused on building smart products, not smart cities,” Matthews observes.
Her vision will make Poughkeepsie the first of its kind – a smart city.
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“It is an honor to partner with my hometown of Poughkeepsie to demonstrate a solution that will finally give cities and their citizens reliable access to the resources they need,” she notes.
That solution quite literally pulls data out of the ground, setting an example for systems that vie to be clean and cost-effective. To implement its cutting-edge tech, Uncharted Power will install pavers just inches into the ground. These pavers form a network of data centers to offer a myriad of services and benefits, from power delivery to top-speed internet access. In time, the infrastructure begins to pay for itself.
“Our power and data infrastructure impacts Poughkeepsie residents’ ability to work, learn, and succeed everyday,” says Rob Rolison, the Mayor of Poughkeepsie. “This pilot program will demonstrate how we can rebuild our local infrastructure to be resilient in the face of new challenges and accelerate growth for our local businesses and residents.”
In addition to being more streamlined, moving energy infrastructure underground is also safer. Storms can decimate power lines, posing issues that can take a while to find. With the Uncharted System, operators can locate a problem instantly; Poughkeepsie will have a “digital twin” through the digital dashboard, streamlining management of city services.
Uncharted Power’s innovation has drawn the attention of high-profile investors, including basketball legend Magic Johnson. The Siegel Family Endowment team has pledged $1.8 million in seed funding to kickstart the initiative. With a coalition of thinkers from several home-grown organizations and city planners, Uncharted Power’s pilot “smart city” is closer to reality.
Among that coalition is Community Matters 2, a local force in developing Poughkeepsie’s youngest, Nubian Directions II, an agency that provides computer training and information technology to low-income residents, and MASS Design Group, a diverse team of architects, engineers, and builders. An overall goal of the project – and its unifying philosophy – is to shift costs away from local governments and the communities they serve.
Another way Uncharted Power seeks to invest in Poughkeepsie’s future is through its students. One hundred Poughkeepsie City School District middle schoolers will take part in creating a better home for themselves by participating in virtual STEM programming.
Helping the creative thinkers of tomorrow get started is important for Matthews. She has made incredible strides early in her career, being recognized by President Obama, NASDAQ, and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for her achievements. At just 19, she invented a soccer ball – the Socket – that turns its own kinetic energy into power for light.
The inspiration behind these inventions came from visits to her extended family in Nigeria. The lack of electricity in the community became apparent during a trip to celebrate her aunt’s wedding. Matthews noticed how frequently the family lost power and was appalled by the toxicity of alternative energy sources.
Over the years, she experienced the loss of three family members due to the inferior energy infrastructure. Matthews has worked diligently since then to save lives in her community.
Though Uncharted Power was started in Harlem, the recent move to Poughkeepsie was a no-brainer. It’s where Matthews was born, and where she wants to demonstrate her vision for a better future.
Dutchess County has always been at the forefront of innovation – the telegraph’s inventor lived here – and Uncharted Power will continue this tradition into a greener future.