June 4th, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Kansas (Smart) City

Herb Sih, managing partner & co-founder of Think Big Partners, and Isaiah Blackburn, Chief Strategist of Smart + Connected KC, at a "Smart City" panel Friday.
Herb Sih, managing partner & co-founder of Think Big Partners, and Isaiah Blackburn, Chief Strategist of Smart + Connected KC, at a "Smart City" panel Friday.

Kansas City should soon learn the specifics of what it means to be a “smart city,” as designated by Cisco Systems Inc., the San Jose, California, computer networking giant.

On Monday, Cisco officials are scheduled to announce the details around a letter of intent it signed with the city a year ago.

This will make Kansas City the largest city in North America to become “Smart+Connected.” This initiative, spearheaded by Cisco, aims to “create more livable cities [and] help them thrive” through innovative technologies.

Although Kansas City will become one of the first “Smart Cities” in North America, Barcelona, Spain has tested these technologies before. Technologies Kansas City can expect to see are “smart kiosks,” “smart parking,” and eco-friendly street lighting sensors.

As well as Cisco, Kansas City is partnering with Think Big Partners, a local organization that focuses on the promotion and growth of community businesses and entrepreneurs.

The project’s boundaries will start around the new 2.2 mile streetcar line, including the districts of the River Market, Power & Light and the Crossroads. Cisco hopes to expand the project both locally and to other cities around the globe.

During a panel discussion hosted by Think Big Partners Friday, Herb Sih, managing partner and  co-founder of Think Big Partners, was enthusiastic about the project and said that once this technology has been introduced to Kansas City, it would be introduced to other cities based upon what worked and what didn’t here.

According to the Kansas City Business Journal, the City Council approved a measure in April that allocated around $3.7 million in funding to the project. On Thursday, the city signed a deal with Sprint to manage the Wi-Fi and cellular data for the “Smart City” areas.  The “Smart City” planners hope that, through eco-friendly and energy saving technologies, this investment will eventually save the city money.

However there are concerns that these new technologies will take jobs away from Kansas Citians.

“Technology always kills jobs. New technology creates new opportunities to re-skill workers. Sure, it might take one job away, but it might create five or 10 jobs on the other side,” said Blake Miller, a partner in Think Big Partners, said.

Job loss is just one of the challenges Kansas City and its partner will have to consider in the development of this project.


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