Kansas City, Missouri, has recently announced its entry into the smart city category and, according to the city’s website www.kcmo.gov, is in fact “the world’s most connected Smart City”.
The process of Kansas City’s transformation into a smart city started four years ago, when it provided residents with extremely fast 1,000 megabits-per-second Google Fiber internet connections from public access hotspots. Another major step was when the Kansas City Streetcar, the first urban rail transit service in the region for close to 60 years, became operational last year, in May 2016.
However, according to Bob Bennett, the Kansas City Chief Innovation Officer, the real transition to a smart city took place when the city started collecting data strategically and making sense of it to make better and smarter decisions that have an impact on citizens’ lives.
Currently, Kansas City uses a live map which draws on the city’s various smart sensors to produce a real-time visualization of data, which are made available to citizens. These data include inf
ormation on pedestrian hotspots, the exact location of Streetcars at any time, traffic and available parking spots.
The smart city infrastructure is located in a 51 square block area covering the 2.5 mile (4 km) stretch of the streetcar route in downtown Kansas City. The area includes 328 access points for public WiFi and 25 information kiosks connected to WiFi and providing real-time data.
Of course, apart from citizens, the smart city data -anonymized- can also be used by local businesses and by of the companies that partner Kansas City in developing smart city services, such as Sprint and Cisco.
Through such partnerships, Kansas City is hoping to expand its smart city services and applications outside the current area, to make more and more information available to citizens and businesses, to further improve city services and to further solidify the region as a center for technology.