Technology throughout the City of McKinney makes life easier for residents in numerous ways.

Traffic Control

Traffic engineers keep a close eye on roadways throughout the community by watching live camera feeds in the traffic control room at the City of McKinney’s Public Works Department. 

Using what look like joysticks, staff members rotate and zoom the cameras mounted at various intersections – and then dispatch crews to immediately respond to nonworking traffic signals or malfunctioning school zone lights. 

High-Tech Libraries

For years, libraries were synonymous with hushed whispers and model behavior. But as the world evolves, so do libraries. Librarians in McKinney now urge patrons to embrace new habits and technology. 

New technology-focused services offered by McKinney Public Library System include e-book selections for smartphones and tablets. Books can be checked out online and returned automatically so there are no late fees. 

In addition, McKinney Public Libraries now offer the free Mango Languages learning system online. Each Mango lesson combines real-life situations and audio from native speakers, teaching actual conversation. 

The Roy and Helen Hall Library Computer Lab has 22 computers, and the John and Judy Gay Library has 16 computers. Both locations offer Internet access, Microsoft Office programs and other software – all free to use. Free WiFi access also is available. 

For the younger set, the library system offers six Early Literacy Stations (ELS), a complete educational tool for kids ages 2–10 in English and bilingual Spanish. The software covers seven curriculum areas, and the ELS on Advanced Workstations for Education offers children a safe learning environment from a computer not connected to the Internet. 

The system was obtained through a grant from the Loan Star Libraries Grant Program. Multimedia and educational content were evaluated by early childhood specialists, educators and family focus groups.

Solar Array

In 2010, the City of McKinney was awarded a Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) grant for a renewable energy project. 

The city’s project was a solar energy photovoltaic system for Fire Station No. 6 (located behind Kohl’s and seen from U.S. 75), consisting of roof-mounted solar panels. 

Public and private funds were used for this project. Funding includes $322,000 from the grant and $64,000 in utility rebates. Because the city applied the rebates as the local cost share, the city’s payback began the day the solar array started operation. 

Fire Station 6’s solar array began its initial full month of operation in September 2011. It is expected to produce nearly half of the facility’s energy, significantly slashing the utility bill.

The city’s use of the renewable energy technology resulted in a 41 percent reduction in energy consumption for a four-month period measured in 2011 vs. 2010. The energy savings equaled a cost savings of more than $1,600. 

In addition, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be reduced by 93,000 pounds annually, equal to planting 12 acres of trees each year. 

Charging Stations

The City of McKinney’s first electric vehicle (EV) plugged into the city’s charging station at the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library in 2011. The charging station is provided through the TXU Energy EV Accelerator Program and is one of the city’s four planned charging stations.

Such public/private partnerships help McKinney realize its vision of smart growth. Using hybrid electric vehicles in the city fleet promotes sustainable growth and reduces expenses.

The other charging stations will be at the McKinney Senior Recreation Center and office buildings for the city’s Development Services and Public Works departments. 

In addition, TXU Energy and the city partnered to secure a grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments to convert three existing city vehicles, Toyota Prius hybrids, into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. 

TXU Energy is also providing $150,000 in rebates to the city through two signature programs: the TXU Energy Accelerator Program and the Brighten Greenback rebate program for energy efficiency. 

 

About the author: Anna Clark is Communications and Media Manager for the City of McKinney.