Since 2013, more than 160 active shooter situations have taken place in the United States.
Imagine for a moment if those events could be prevented or mitigated through the use of technology, such as drones, social media analysis and other sensors.
That future is closer than ever according to leaders of Kansas City’s Smart City initiative, which will soon kick off an effort to thwart active shooter situations with technology.
The public-private initiative between Kansas City, Mo., Cisco Systems, Think Big Partners and Sprint will first focus on improving public safety, specifically with helping law enforcement respond to domestic terrorism threats. The group plans to conduct a live demonstration of a mock active shooter situation to which the Kansas City Police Department will respond with the help of various smart city technologies.
Smart City partners plan to hold a Smart City Tech Summit in late March that will welcome tech leaders from around the country to remotely watch the demonstration. The demonstration — which is not open to the public — is scheduled to take place on March 31.
Think Big managing partner Herb Sih said that demo attendees will watch a live stream, narrated law enforcement video from a tactical command center. Attendees will experience how smart city technologies — including drones, satellites and more — can help detect, defeat and manage active shooter threats. The demo will take place at an undisclosed, secure location in Kansas City.
The proliferation of active shooter events is why Smart City leaders are hoping to tap new technologies to thwart them in the future, Sih said.
“You could have the smartest city in the world — but if people aren’t safe you’ve got problems,” he said. “When we looked at the next big problem that we wanted to tackle, we thought this would really put a stake in the ground for Kansas City. We’re uniquely positioned because we’ve got a cooperative local government, a willingness to roll up our sleeves and a very progressive police force.”
Technologies to be used in the active shooter demo include satellites, drones, telecom sensors, intelligent social media monitoring, data analytics and other mobile technologies. The technologies will be further enhanced and developed as part of the smart city’s “Living Lab,” a platform in which innovators can create various solutions to be implemented in the smart city framework.
Sih said that the demo hopes to not only showcase new technology, but also to simultaneously boost Kansas City’s tech credentials.
“We want to see if we can actually identify technology that hasn’t existed previously and bring it to Kansas City to test it and validate it,” he said. “Secondarily, we want to attract people who are working in the public safety space to say ‘Gosh, if Kansas City is willing to test this with a live demonstration, it might be a good place to build a company.’”
The Smart City Tech Summit — taking place March 29 to March 31 — invites government officials, law enforcement, tech companies and others to attend the summit.
The Smart City initiative is a $15.7 million, public-private tech project in downtown Kansas City. Kansas City signed an agreement with Sprint and Cisco in June to create the largest smart city in North America, building a massive public Wi-Fi and sensor network to collect citizens’ data to improve municipal services.
The Smart City will install 25 digital kiosks along and nearby Kansas City’s 2.2-mile streetcar line in Downtown. The kiosks will provide details on city services, nearby restaurants and real-time information collected from smart city sensors. Kiosks also will provide the information in a variety of languages and allow users to call 911 for emergency services.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James previously said that the project is an open invitation to innovators from around the world to test various technologies on Kansas City’s smart city framework. James challenged entrepreneurs in Kansas City to develop smart city technology that will save the city and its taxpayers money, including efficiencies for Kansas City’s troubled sewer system.
“This is an invitation to the entire world to come to Kansas City to see what we’re doing, participate in it, bring ideas and test them out,” James said previously. “We expect to have more people from around the country and world … to take advantage of all the things that we have to offer, and to bring their knowledge, ideas and thoughts on innovation to Kansas City to play with what we’ve got so we can build on what they bring to us and continue to build our infrastructure. This sets us apart from other cities.”