Kansas City is now a smart city

Nine months ago, Kansas City, Missouri, announced that it would be investing $15 million in a public-private partnership with Cisco to make a two-mile streetcar corridor smart — like, Internet of Things smart. The city has just shared the first compilation of data with other cities, as well as with federal agencies.

Just over four years ago, Kansas City hooked up residents with Google Fiber. Now, the city has added free public Wi-Fi across 50 downtown blocks and 125 smart LED streetlights that respond to activity.

The streetcar route also has a dozen kiosks (so far) where people who don’t have cell phones can learn about transportation options, accessing city services, local entertainment and more. The kiosks could also be used as a reverse alert in emergencies to notify people of potential problems.

Kansas City was one of the top finalists in the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, but it did not win the grant money (that went to Columbus, Ohio). Kansas City decided to move ahead by partnering with Cisco, which is contributing about $12 million to the project. KCMO is contributing $3.8 million over the next 10 years.

Because the project is new, the big data isn’t as big as it’s going to be. But you can check out a live map, provided by Xaqt, that shows the exact location of the streetcars in Kansas City. It also shows occupied and available parking and traffic speeds.

The data collected is not only expected to help the citizens of Kansas City to maneuver quickly and safely around town, the city is also working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help set standards for using big data and protecting personal privacy in the future.