Cisco announcement to advance KC as a tech hub

Downtown Kansas City received more affirmation Wednesday that it’s a tech hub with which to be reckoned.

As part of an ongoing, public-private effort to identify and solve a variety of municipal problems, the City of Kansas City, Missouri will work with CiscoSystems Inc. to make it a “smart city.”

According to The Kansas City Business Journalthe model uses a variety of network capabilities — including sensors and other devices — to offer information to address such city challenges as transportation, safety, parking and infrastructure. Although Cisco already has a few smart cities, Kansas City’s prospective plan in Downtown appears to be among the company’s most expansive to date.

Mayor Sly James, along with several Cisco officials, announced several ideas to leverage the smart city model to identify potential efficiencies and problems via sensors plugged directly into its Downtown infrastructure.

James said Kansas City soon will launch pilot tests to build smart lighting, interactive digital kiosks, high-definition security video and other high-tech solutions to help residents in Downtown.

The Business Journal continued:

“The possibilities around this framework are limited only by our own imagination and ideas,” James said. “The Smart+Connected framework is win-win for everybody. It furthers our efforts to be the most entrepreneurial city in the nation while enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors in Kansas City today.”

RELATED: The ‘Internet of Things’ – a multitrillion-dollar industry

James said many of the smart city services will result in cost savings for the city, including through its smart lighting and infrastructure sensing. The smart city effort also will offer an array of opportunities for entrepreneurs in Kansas City.

“This is going to give our entrepreneurs a chance to build their own unique, innovative application to enhance the public experience and even solve some deep-rooted city-related problems.” he said. “Kansas City is going to be a beta for entrepreneurs all across the world to test applications and technology. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to scale up quickly in a cost-efficient manner by giving them a living, breathing client — that being the city of Kansas City, Missouri — to test their ideas.”

Kansas City-based Think Big Partners LLC has worked with a variety of city departments for months to discuss how the “Internet of Everything” can solve problems for the city. Think Big Managing Partner Herb Sih said the company will be a leader in the effort to make the city a living lab for which entrepreneurs can build technologies.

Troy Schulte, city manager of Kansas City, said in a question-and-answer with Cisco officials that he thinks the smart city model can be used as part of Kansas City’s coming streetcar. For example, he said, sensors along the streetcar’s 2.2-mile first phase could notify operators of a track issue or police of a car parked on the track.

RELATED: How ‘smart’ utilities save cities, utility providers money

Kevin McGinnis, vice president of Pinsight Media+ and the Sprint Corp. Developer program, said this validates Kansas City as a tech powerhouse. He added that Sprint is thrilled Cisco chose the city for its innovative technology.

“We’re excited about what this means for Kansas City and see this as another great step in establishing Kansas City as an innovation and technology hub,” McGinnis said. “Sprint and Cisco have a long history of teaming up to deliver a variety of solutions, and we’re extremely excited that they’ve chosen Kansas City to do this, and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

KCnext President Ryan Weber said the plan is enormous for Kansas City’s future. KCnext, a part of the Kansas City Area Development Council, works to bolster the area’s tech sector.

“An investment in this kind of technology will save the city money, it will make it more efficient, but it also will attract people and companies to Kansas City,” Weber said. “This is another competitive advantage over cities like St. Louis, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, those that we compete with most frequently.”