Cyber Monday kills productivity in this country. Tell your co-workers to knock of the shopping at work. Then tell them to read Smart Things.

Cyber Monday kills productivity in this country. Tell your co-workers to knock of the shopping at work. Then tell them to read Smart Things.


Smart Thing 1: SkyWatch

The Buffalo Police unveiled a new tool in crime prevention – “SkyWatch.” The portable, elevating watch tower gives the force a “360 degree bird’s eye view” of the surrounding streets, and will be used to reduce crime throughout the city.

Like it or not, we’re years into the whole Big Brother thing – be it keyboard and mouse usage counters at work, telephone surveillance, traffic cameras, data mining, airport scanners, facial recognition software on Facebook, or surveillance cameras at Taco Bell. Folks, those are just a few examples.

Tampa Bay just increased its heavy usage of street surveillance this week, and Mayor Bill Foster spoke about the privacy issue.

“Privacy … is a big issue for all of us. But I think you’d have to be a real idiot to deal your drugs in front of this thing.”

If we can put up with that big dose of Big Brother at work, at home, in traffic, and at fast food restaurants, we can welcome the same technology to our sidewalks in order to make them safer.

Less muggings: smart.

And it’s a vast improvement over our last eye in the sky.

I can see Caz Park from here.


Smart Thing 2: Buffalo is the Champion City of the Maligned

“Go to Gabriel’s Gate in Allentown, sit at the bar, order some wings and share a basket of popcorn and some conversation with the person sitting next to you. Break bread with us. Stay out until 4 a.m. with us at the bars. Commiserate with us about our sports teams. Ask us about our weather if you must. Help us push our cars out of a snowdrift. Spend some time here and you will like it. I swear. But if you don’t come, that’s OK too, because we don’t mind keeping Buffalo’s charms a secret.”

Sure, we’ve all heard that “we’re a hidden gem” stuff plenty of times. That can feel like a tiresome quote, positive as it is. But frankly, it bears repeating because it is true.

This time, the above quote comes from Gadling – “the world’s top travel blog.” More specifically, it comes from Dave Seminara:

“Dave Seminara is an award-winning freelance photojournalist and former diplomat based in Northern Virginia. He’s a compulsive traveler who is miserable when he doesn’t have a trip to plan. His work has appeared in a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, including The New York Times,, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Oklahoman, and Indianapolis Monthly. Dave his lived in Macedonia, Trinidad, Ireland, Hungary and six U.S states. Dave’s personal website is at”

This is great press for Buffalo, and let’s admit it – we can use as much of that stuff as we can get. To get it from such a highly respected source is a nice feather in our snow-cap.

Hit this link to read his piece on the Queen City. It’ll warm your cold toes on this chilly November day.

Good national/international PR: smart.


Smart Thing 3: The Digital Revolution Grows in WNY

Those out of education might not realize it, but education is undergoing sweeping change. Chalkboards, textbooks, and pencils are slowly becoming a thing of the past, while more and more, technologies such as SMART boards, mobile devices, and laptops are becoming the classroom norm.

Add Grand Island High to the list of schools entering into the “Digital Revolution.” From WGRZ:

“In Mr. Green’s class the iPads are being used to take notes, complete labs, and submit assignments. ‘It’s amazing what iPads can do in education. Most people see them for their leisure and entertainment value. I was astounded with the ease of their implementation into everyday classroom activities. I have noticed student improvement,’ said. Green. ‘Students have been more engaged and the use of this tool has increased our instructional time because we don’t have to distribute as much paper.’

Students agree iPads are an effective classroom tool.  ‘It makes us more willing to do everyday activities like taking notes’ said student, Cassie Gilcart.  ‘They (iPads) keep us organized and we can’t lose our notes or assignments’ noted student Jake McMahon, Both are juniors currently enrolled in Mr. Green’s Environmental Science course. Green went on to say, ‘I see that the students are more engaged in the lessons. I believe the iPads give students a modern, hands-on experience, one similar to college. From an environmental standpoint, I haven’t had to use the copy machine as much and it feels good not to use so much paper. I wish I could keep a class set (of iPads) indefinitely.’”

The world around us is moving forward on a flourishing digital existence. Using education technology to give students a hands-on context is very empowering. These tools help to keep students positive, productive, and successful – in the classroom and out in the real, tech-driven world.

Improving our schools: smart.

To stay up to date on these digital trends and changes in education, make sure to follow the “Best of Digital Learning” blog on Twitter at @BestofDL.




  • Note: “3 Smartest Things” is being produced to go along with the “5 Dumbest Things” series here on TB. “Why three,” you ask? Well – far be it from me to break our time honored tradition of berating each other on the progress of our fair Queen City. Tell you what, when the new Peace Bridge goes up, we’ll go up to five. And of course, feel free to follow me on Twitter to discuss all things trending in Buffalo, and check out my blog “Buffalo Sabres Nation” when you’re bored at work. Your boss will appreciate your increased productivity afterwards.



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