It’s poised to be a momentous week for Kansas City infrastructure.
In addition to the Friday launch of the much-anticipated Kansas City streetcar line, the City of Fountains has officially kicked off operations of its smart city framework.
The $15.7 million public-private project aims to transform Kansas City’s downtown into a living lab of Wi-Fi connectivity on and around the 2.2-mile streetcar line. Via a large Wi-Fi and sensor network, the project will provide a variety of information to citizens while also collecting data on their behavior in downtown.
The project is a collaboration between Kansas City, Sprint, Cisco and Think Big Partners. Kansas City signed an agreement with Sprint and Cisco in June to create the largest smart city in North America with the intention to improve municipal services.
The Sprint Wi-Fi network stretches across more than 50 square blocks in downtown and will enable connectivity between the project’s sensors and devices. The project includes 125 “smart” streetlights along the streetcar line and 25 touchscreen kiosks that offer information on city services, nearby restaurants and real-time information collected from smart city sensors.
“I’m excited to see our Smart City open to the world,” Kansas City CIO Bob Bennett said in a release. “This effort helps us connect to 21st-century citizens in 21st-century ways, understand our city better through use of big data and enable city leaders to prevent problems instead of just solving them.”
Sprint’s network is worth around $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.
“Sprint is excited to be part of this important initiative to enable greater connectivity in our hometown, Kansas City,” Tim Donahue, president of Sprint’s Kansas and Missouri operations, said in a release. “We view this as a mutually beneficial partnership that will make Kansas City an even better place to live, work and visit.”
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. Think Big’s Living Lab initiative will serve as the testing hub for entrepreneurs’ smart city ideas.
The Kansas City streetcar is hosting a public party Friday to kick off its operations. The event starts at 10 a.m. at Union Station.
To learn more about the Living Lab, watch the video below.