There are always a lot of questions to be asked when it comes to government bodies collecting data about the general public, but officials in Kansas City in Missouri can demonstrate some positives.
On Tuesday, they revealed that the city has shared its first batch of smart city data with other cities and federal agencies.
This real-time data is aimed at changing the way Kansas City is run and making the lives of its citizens easier. For instance, city decision-makers have launched an interactive information map.
Tapping into data
With this map, people living in Kansas City can locate available parking, get information about city traffic levels and find KC Streetcar locations in real-time.
The data is gathered through a sophisticated connected tech system. Around 122 video sensors have been distributed along a two-mile stretch of a downtown street.
Officials have also demonstrated support for Amazon’s AI-driven virtual assistant, Alexa. They asked it which city buses were running late, and Alexa came back with the names of five late buses.
Smart city commitment
Kansas City has shown a big interest in the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). Four years ago, it began rolling out Google Fiber – a fiber-to-the-premises service – to residents. Nine months ago, officials announced a $15 million partnership with tech giant Cisco to build a smart street.
Today, there are numerous signs of progress. Not only has the city provided free Wi-Fi for 50 downtown blocks, but it’s also invested in 125 smart LED streetlights.
If there’s one resource that citizens seem to love, it’s the streetcar smart kiosks. Here, they can find out information about transportation systems, city services and entertainment.
According to Computerworld, Kansas City Mayor Sly James said at the launch event: “Smart city sensors and digital tools are cool, but understanding how to use these tools and the data that they generate bridges the gap between cool and smart.”
Mark Armstrong, vice president and managing director at global app development company Progress, said cognitive applications will have a critical role in the smart cities of the future. They can revolutionize government services, and transportation in particular.
“Cognitive applications are going to be crucial for any smart city transportation project, as they will be the catalyst for the next evolution in how vehicles interact with their environment,” he told Internet of Business.
“The benefits will include operational, financial and environmental efficiency gains, brought about through leveraging, understanding and learning from the data being generated by people and places.”
Kansas is a model
Kansas City, in a way, acts as a model to other cities. And while the smart city movement might bring a lot to the UK, Armstrong believes that a lack of government investment is holding the nation back.
“The issue with the UK boils down to a lack of investment. The Government should look to encourage companies to invest in advancing this technology, through grants or other incentives, to put this infrastructure in place for smart cities,” he said.
“The ultimate ambition is for cognitive applications to teach themselves, so the sooner we can get them installed, the better.”