The Midwest is thriving as a new area for technology and Kansas City, in particular, is taking full advantage of the region’s newfound technological prowess. Since the implementation of Google Fiber, the city has created a new connected grid, downtown streetcar line and made multiple other digital advancements. This smart city initiative has marked Kansas City as a worldwide leader in connectivity and technical integration.
The smart city initiative began in 2016 with the advent of the of the streetcar line. In addition to the line, the city installed 25 smart kiosks and 328 WiFi access points which allows the city to collect data about how its visitors act and travel while downtown. This data has allowed the city to create a ridesharing app as well as a software system that alerts visitors of open parking stalls in the city.
Matt Henley, vice president of client services at Twentyseven Global in Kansas City, fully supports the smart city initiative. Henley acknowledged that the smart city push has numerous benefits for the area, saying, “As the city increases content and scales the programs, the community should see things like a decrease in traffic, improved shopping, increased jobs and the ability to more easily attract tech talent to the area.”
That ability to bring in more tech talent is greatly enhanced by the city making its data available to the public. Henley said, “As long as the data is structured in a way we can view it in a macro scale and keep individual information confidential, the access to the data is a great thing. By utilizing this data, developers can do something more impactful and beneficial for our community and its visitors. If Google and Facebook can do this to sell us ads, then why can’t KC use similar data to improve our standard of living?”
Phase two of the initiative hopes to create better content for the downtown kiosks as well as improving the user experience. The Smart City Advisory board also plans to expand its current downtown Wi-Fi network. With all the advances in technology and integration, Kansas City is creating a better, more connected city for its citizens.