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Smart Cities and the Age of Urban Tech

In June 2015, Kansas City formalized a $15.7 million public-private partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc., Sprint and partners to implement a comprehensive smart city framework to pilot along Kansas City’s 2.2 mile streetcar corridor. To leverage and attract additional influx of economic activity while providing city solutions, the KC Living Lab is also cooperating with an urban technology business initiative called Think Big Partners.

Kansas City is one of many cities around the world tapping into the digital era to enhance city services and attract industries of the future. What is spurring this need for drastic infrastructure transformation and economic innovation? As urban populations continue to rise, cities will face unprecedented infrastructure demands, and improved public private coordination is needed for better management of energy, water, transport, buildings and societal needs.

Kansas City and other leading edge cities across the world are demonstrating that utilizing science and technology requires more than just expanding technical knowledge and tools.  Supportive and coordinated governmental frameworks are needed to provide accompanying social, economic and policy innovations.

Leadership is required to define a vision of a more sustainable future and to inspire progressive collaboration between government, industry, cities, and citizens to share ideas and to leverage proven platforms and solutions. Dr. Anil Menon, President, Smart + Connected Communities (S+CC), Cisco states  “Effectively transforming challenges into positive results and new opportunities takes the combined efforts of government, industry, academia and individual citizens with innovative ideas to make it a reality. It will take many layers of expertise.”

A variety of tools are available for strategic investments, smart policies and breakthrough technological innovations — to enable cities to better respond to increasingly complex urban planning, design, technology and development challenges. At a time when cities matter more than ever, urban tech has the potential to profoundly change our cities and the world for the better. Furthermore, the places where innovation gets commercialized are thriving. 

New Cities Summit June 2016: Data is the New Gold

The coming era of globalization is unleashing a wave of technological, economic and sociological change centering on people and cities.  Big data and technology, also known as the Internet of Things, now allow us to connect information and draw actionable business intelligence from it – turning data into transformative applications for addressing the worlds most pressing needs. Furthermore, IoT is THE industry of the future has been called the most revolutionary technology sector- experts estimate this sector’s value at $19 trillion.

When cities decide to leap into the digital era, not only are municipal services and quality of life improved, the infrastructure and environment lends itself to attracting next generation economies. Cities are using their smart + connected community (s+cc) frameworks to create living labs for entrepreneurs and urban innovators to tap into the power of technology to help solve key pressing need, such as the Living Lab and Think Big Partnership in Kansas City.

The 2016 edition of the New Cities Summit will bring together those who will shape this new era in Montréal on June 21-23. The Summit will explore emerging trends in the age of Urban Tech, where centers of urban innovation are located.  Additionally, the summit will explore what urban startups and social entrepreneurs need to succeed, how existing assets can be leveraged and ways the public sector can maximize the benefits of this wave of innovation.

The New Cities Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2010 with a vision of a world where cities drive economic, social and environmental progress.  Their mission is to shape a better urban future for all by fostering urban innovation and entrepreneurship. They do this by building and empowering our global network, convening events and conducting pragmatic research.

Cities around the world are realizing that the moment is now to invest in a smart digital infrastructure, one that can improve cities by connecting processes, enhancing livability and engaging citizens- all while preserving and even capitalizing on each city’s individual cultural identity. Every strategy is tailored to each community and uniquely designed to make them more economically viable and sustainable.

Kansas City: Smart City & Urban Tech Flagship

Kansas City is part of a leading edge movement to use advances in technology to change the way cities work–from more efficient management of infrastructure like traffic signals, streetlights and stormwater systems while capitalizing on the economic opportunities. 

When cities embark on the digital transformation, an ‘ecosystem’ of partners come to the table to provide expertise and resources. Of the $15.8 million for the Kansas City Smart + Connected Communities project, approximately $3 million came from Kansas City government and the rest from partners. The partnership with Sprint and Cisco allow the city to make the most of limited resources and aging infrastructure to develop a digital road map for the city.

Kansas City shows us that successful public private partnerships are taking place and already leading to transformational change. City governments with the cross-cutting vision to understand what it will take and embrace this wave of urban technological innovation are seeing the positive effects and are well positioned to be homes to the industries of the future.

Lauren Riga is Acting Administrator – Redevelopment at City of Indianapolis

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