The World’s Smartest City Could be Kansas City

May 12, 2016

Kansas City has already installed free Wi-Fi kiosks downtown.

In a bid to become the nation’s smartest city, Kansas City just announced plans for a 50-block spanning public Wi-Fi project, a fleet of futuristic street lights that turn off when no one’s on the road and a high-tech streetcar that will provide real-time accessibility and scheduling for citizens. It’s all part of the Missouri city’s goal to win the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. Kansas City is one of seven finalists, alongside San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Austin, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

One of the coolest elements of the city’s proposal is the smart streetlights, which are designed to lower electricity consumption and collect data by tracking the number of people in a certain area. These metrics are valuable, according to the city, because they will bring insights that could help the city determine where to allocate new funds and assist business owners and entrepreneurs with deciding where is the best place to open their business. Kansas City CIO Bob Bennett says the data won’t cause any privacy issues, because it’s all completely anonymous.

You may remember that Google Fiber announced that it would begin operations in Kansas City back in 2012. Since then, it has laid over 8,000 miles of fiber-to-the-home in the region. Officials say the new Wi-Fi project will connect and involve citizens via sleek-looking free public Wi-Fi kiosks downtown, which will allow for “accessing city services, current events, transportation services, local business, information, public digital art, local history, and entertainment,” according to the city’s official vision narrative for the competition.

Check out Bennett discussing the kiosk installation here:

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