Kansas City publishes first Smart City data

The buzz about Kansas City, Missouri, being a Smart City strikes a familiar chord locally. That buzz recently hit a higher pitch with the release of Smart City data that explains how strategic analysis and application of this big data will be used to improve city performance.

“The Smart City sensors and digital tools are cool, but understanding how to use these tools, and the data that they generate, bridges the gap between cool and smart,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

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This investment in technology, which includes public Wi-Fi and interactive kiosks, makes Kansas City the most connected city in North America. An ambitious initiative that remains in its infancy, Smart City offers such bells and whistles as smart sensors that collect data in real time to help the City operate more efficiently.

The goal is to set the pace nationally to use technological advances to change the way cities work when it comes to more efficiently managing infrastructure like traffic signals, streetlights and stormwater systems. Then, of course, there is the task of developing innovative ways to engage with residents and visitors. Some of these will undoubtedly fall within the City’s already defined digital roadmap to improve the delivery of City services, enhance the citizen experience and support entrepreneurship and economic development.

The City owns the data, which can be found on its Open Data Catalog.

“We’ve been testing the quality of the data collected through our Smart City infrastructure,” said Chief Innovation Officer Bob Bennett, “and now we will put it to work to benefit Kansas City residents.”

Public access to this data is readily available on a map that shows such real time items like available parking, traffic flow and pedestrian hotspots, as well as the location of KC Streetcars. The projected Smart City infrastructure expansion will allow the City to use big data to drive decisions that save money through more efficient repairs and maintenance of streets, water lines and other infrastructure.

The data is being introduced via a platform operated by Xaqt, a technology firm working with the City to display the data. Kansas City published the data while co-hosting a national workshop with Think Big Partners and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Kansas City’s methods for incorporating big data, protecting personal privacy and using the data to solve problems will lead the federal government’s efforts to set national standards and best practices.