In a move that will provide the Kansas City area more resources to develop Internet of Things technology, President Obama’s administration announced Monday that it’s boosting support of U.S. smart city infrastructure.
The White House issued a statement that it’s expanding its Smart Cities Initiative with more than $80 million in new investments. The move also will double the number of participating communities, exceeding 70 in total. The announcement kicks off U.S. “Smart Cities Week,” which spans Sept. 27 – 29.
“If we can reconceive of our government so that the interactions and the interplay between private sector, nonprofits, and government are opened up, and we use technology, data, social media in order to join forces around problems, then there’s no problem that we face in this country that is not soluble,” President Barack Obama said in a release.
The White House launched the Smart Cities Initiative in September 2015, which marked the beginning of its work with the Kansas City tech community. The initiative aims to make it easier for cities, federal agencies, universities and the private sector to collaborate on technologies “that make our cities more inhabitable, cleaner and more equitable,” the White House wrote in a release.
As part of the new $80 million funds, Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan. tech leaders will work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other collaborators to develop Internet of Things innovations.
Area officials will participate in the NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge with Portland, Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, and other cities to contact tech for large-scale natural disasters, intelligent transportation systems and regional air quality improvements. Cities, several federal agencies and tech corporations — such as IBM, AT&T and others — will develop plans for shared solutions that will be collaboratively implemented in multiple communities.
The White House announced that Kansas City will host two “SuperCluster” meetings in 2017 that bring together public and private sector groups from around the nation.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James lauded the announcement.
“Today’s announcement by the White House is further validation that Kansas city continues to be a global leader in civic innovation,” James said in a release. “We commend the White House for their continued leadership in helping cities across the nation come together to tackle difficult challenges.”
A portion of the $160 million grant from 2015 included a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation that 15 communities tapped, including Kansas City. KC Digital Drive helped lead the local effort and will continue to support with the Global City Teams Challenge.
“KC Digital Drive is excited to support regional collaboration, and today’s announcement is a great example of how we are stronger when we work together.” said Digital Drive managing director Aaron Deacon said in a release.
Kansas City is no amateur with smart city technology. In May, Kansas City officially kicked off its smart city initiative. 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.