The first physical elements of Kansas City’s Smart City project have sprung up in downtown.
On Monday morning, the City of Kansas City, Mo. installed two digital kiosks on the 1300 block of Grand Boulevard. The seven-foot-tall, touchscreen kiosks — only two of 25 total — will provide users details on city services and real-time information collected via Smart City sensors.
In addition to details on city services, the kiosks will offer information on nearby restaurants, events, weather and other information collected from smart city sensors. Created by CityPost, the kiosks will allow local businesses to push special promotions or coupons to citizens that opt-in to receive notifications via their smartphone. Kiosks also will provide the information in a variety of languages and allow users to call 911 for emergency services.
Bob Bennett, Kansas City’s chief innovation officer, said that the kiosks’ arrival is apt timing for the men’s Big 12 Basketball Tournament, which will attract thousands of people to downtown.
“I’m pretty psyched,” Bennett said as a technician fiddled with software on one of the double-sided, waterproof kiosks. “The Big 12 Tournament is a chance to showcase innovation in the city and the ingenuity of the people around us.”
Thirteen of the 25 kiosks will be placed alongside Kansas City’s streetcar line while the others will be placed strategically in other high-volume foot traffic areas in the Crossroads Arts District and River Market.
The first Kiosk was installed on the west side of Grand on the sidewalk just south of McFadden’s Pub; the second was placed on the east side of Grand in front of the College Basketball Experience.
The city for months collected public input on the kiosks’ content and functions. Many of those ideas — including details on local events, public transportation options, weather and more — were integrated into the kiosks.
Bennett said that the Smart City and the use of its kiosks will likely change throughout their lifetime.
“The whole nature of this project is that it’s going to adjust based on user feedback,” he said. “We’re already changing how the kiosks are going to work and it hasn’t even gone online yet. That’s a really fun thing about this — it’s dynamically evolving.”
The kiosks’ installation is a part of the $15.7 million, public-private Smart City project in downtown Kansas City. Kansas City announced the initiative in the summer of 2014 and it has since been a lightning rod for discussion around technology in civic innovation.
Sprint will be building a network of connectivity worth up to $7 million while Cisco will be providing smart city infrastructure worth upwards of $5 million. The Kansas City Council approved in April roughly $3.7 million to spend on the project, bringing the total cost of the Smart City effort to more than $15.7 million.
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. He added it also affords Kansas City entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop smart city technology that will save the city and its taxpayers money.
To learn more about the project, go to kcmo.gov/smartcity