Kansas City residents, entrepreneurs, corporate partners, and city officials plan to come together during the Smart City Innovation Workshop at Techweek KC to brainstorm solutions to day-to-day challenges using smart technology.
The workshop pulls into Union Station Oct. 8 — the first day of Techweek KC, which runs through Oct. 12 and is presented by Techweek, a Chicago-based media and events company.
“We go through very specific design thinking-driven exercises to get into the lives of the citizens and get into the minutia of how these technologies can impact their lives and the challenges that need to be addressed,” said Sih, managing partner of Think Big Partners.
Think Big, a consulting firm focused on the smart city concept, is bringing the workshop home to Kansas City for the first time after four years positioning it in cities across North America, said Sih.
“What we’re finding across the country — and more and more cities and organizations are finding this — is that you really have to do more than just go top-down with the mission and vision and goals of the city,” he said. “You really have to go bottoms-up from the citizens too.”
Earlier workshops in such cities as Toronto have focused on topics like transportation, digital inclusion, public safety, and affordable housing through exercises with rapid-fire questions and exploration of complex issues, said Sih.
The exercises allow residents to explore overall issues to neighborhoods’ individual challenges, he said, going through each aspect of their day to look for technological solutions.
After gaining input from Kansas Citians, entrepreneurs, officials, and corporate partners, organizers plan to conduct innovation campfires using a facilitator to bring ideas to fruition, Sih added.
Everyone involved will benefit from the experience, he said, with entrepreneurs and larger companies gaining validation or new ideas for projects, city officials reaffirming what residents face day-to-day, and Kansas Citians gaining a better understanding of what a smart city means to them.
“[Residents] can understand the ways they can participate in the creation of new products and services that impact our lives,” Sih said. “Frankly, they can get a better understanding of how government and entrepreneurs and large companies work together; They can either be more patient as these very complex solutions are being developed or sometimes it can even lead to them becoming an entrepreneur or an innovator themselves or wanting to get involved in a more meaningful way to be able to help drive these solutions in the city.”
The workshop, or similar events, should be replicated at least once or twice a year, he added.
“This is really an opportunity to be able to bring them together — citizens, entrepreneurs, large companies, even funders and supporters — to be able to work together under the watchful eye and the partnership with the city,” Sih said. “This is a great way to kick off Techweek.”
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