Kansas City is already ahead in smart city innovation. Here’s how it can push further

Originally published in The Kansas City Star on February 8, 2018

Kansas City has deemed itself the world’s most connected smart city — a moniker it deserves. In August of last year, I visited the city for the Gigabit City Summit, hosted by KC Digital Drive. I was blown away at the progress it had made on smart city projects.

The results speak for themselves. Whether it’s the KC Streetcar or the Living Lab smart city development workshop, the private and public sectors are dedicated to improving everyday experiences for residents. And by investing in connected technology, transit and high-speed broadband, the city has generated almost $2 billion in economic improvements.

Since that initial visit, I have shared how this Midwestern city is one of the top performers in the country when it comes to smart city innovation. So what can Kansas City teach leaders in the other 20,000 cities across the nation? Here are the two big lessons.

▪ First, prioritize investment in your city’s digital infrastructure. Kansas City was well ahead of the curve when it decided to encourage private sector companies to build out the city’s mobile broadband infrastructure. Creating a welcoming permitting and regulatory environment and a fair competitive process were critical steps. As a result, there are now 29 companies providing internet service to residents and businesses.

A majority of smart city innovation rests on the network, which ensures these revolutionary technologies can be supported and powered. It’s critical to streamline processes at City Hall that can enable continued build out and ensure Kansas City remains one of the smartest metropolitan areas.

▪ Second, city leaders must continue to encourage public and private sectors stakeholders to work together. In Kansas City, large corporations, nimble startups, community advocates and government all find a way to collaborate in order to move big projects forward .

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