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KC is becoming a ‘Smart City’: Any questions?

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The panel gathered for “Emerging Kansas City: Building the City of the Future” at Techweek. (Photo: Bridgit Bowden | Flatland)

Thursday at Techweek, the Union Station Extreme Screen theatre was packed to the brim with people wanting to hear about “Emerging Kansas City: Building the City of the Future.” The topic of conversation: Kansas City’s Smart City initiative.

In case you haven’t heard of the Smart City, here’s what it is in brief:

In June of 2015, a public-private partnership between Kansas City, Mo. and Cisco Systems was announced. The goal is to implement “smart” technologies into Kansas City’s infrastructure. The 10-year project will cost about $15 million, and $3.8 million of that will come from the city.

Think Big Partners in Kansas City is also involved. It will manage the “Living Lab,” where much of the technology will be evaluated and tested.

Here’s what infrastructure is planned now: smart parking meters that you can pay and monitor through an app, smart streetlights that conserve energy by turning off when they’re not needed, interactive kiosks along the streetcar line, and video sensors that will monitor hazards that might be in the way of the streetcar.

Herb Sih, managing partner from Think Big, said one of the main goals of the Smart City is to solve city problems.

“There’s a big difference between invention and innovation,” Sih said, explaining that innovation focuses on fixing problems — not just creating new technology.

Thursday’s session wasn’t much of an update on the Smart City project, but it did give us some questions.

Just like any other urban area, Kansas City has a lot of big problems to face. Issues like poverty, education, crime and inequality are on many citizens’ minds.

We want to know how the Smart City initiative is going to provide innovations that address these huge problems.

Sih said that these first plans are baby steps, and that eventually they will affect change on these larger issues.

“Everything is interconnected,” he said.

So, what do you think about Kansas City becoming a “Smart City?” Are there any questions you’d like to see answered? Let us know in the comments below, send email to, or tweet them to us @FlatlandKC or @bridgitbowden.


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