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Kansas City partners with Cisco and Sprint for smart city, Wi-Fi

Sprint and Cisco have partnered with Kansas City, Missouri, to roll out a smart city framework and city-wide Wi-Fi network.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Sprint will deploy a Wi-Fi network in its home town of Kansas City, Missouri, as part of a new partnership with the town and Cisco to build a smart city framework.

The Wi-Fi network, along a two-mile car line, will form the backbone for the smart city as part of the public-private partnership between Cisco, Kansas City, and Sprint.

"We see it unlocking and enabling some very efficient services and capabilities," Sprint CTO Stephan Bye told the Cisco Live conference in San Diego, California, on Monday.

With a backbone of Wi-Fi and sensors rolled out across 93,000 street lights in the city, it would allow the city to manage parking, traffic, lighting, water, and waste management.

Phase one of the framework will commence later this year, and will see the network built, owned, and managed by Sprint, but made available to the public and Sprint customers.

There will also be an enterprise mobility services platform, a living lab data portal developed by ThinkBig Partners, digital kiosks, water management, and smart lighting sensors installed to cut energy costs for the city.

Kansas City could save as much as $4 million annually in lighting costs through switching to LEDs alone, according to Hugh Martin, CEO of Sensity Systems. Additional cost savings will come from making those lights sensors.

"The cost effectiveness comes from the fact you're not installing a new fixture. The labour is paid for. If you combine these things, you've got a very cost-effective way to build a light sensory network," he said.

The data collected by the sensors would also be made available to developers, with an API available for apps to find the best use for data collected through street light sensors.

"The city gets to harness all this creativity, and there's now competition ... and that builds best of breed. The city [also] becomes upgradeable," Martin said.

Kansas City chief innovation officer Ashley Hand said that the partnership with Sprint and Cisco had allowed the city to make the most of limited resources and ageing infrastructure to develop a digital road map for the city.

"This builds upon our growing and evolving program of using data to drive decision making ... but also engages our citizens in new ways to provide that information," she said.

She said the city had been working on strong storage and privacy principles for the data collected, and is making sure citizens are aware of how the data is being used. Citizens are also providing feedback through a smart industry advisory board.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said that the city's location in the centre of the United States made it critical to get infrastructure right.

"We are at the cross roads of this nation and this continent. We're pretty much right in the middle. The comprehensive smart city framework we're going to work with Cisco and Sprint to build... is as important as any of the other networks we've had in terms of infrastructure," he said.

"When the switch is thrown early next year. Kansas City government [will be] more responsive and efficient [and] we'll identify new sources of revenue and identify cost savings."

Cisco has partnered with over 90 cities across the world as part of its push into the Internet of Everything and smart cities. Other cities partnered with Cisco include Chicago, Vancouver, Auckland, Brisbane, and Adelaide.

Josh Taylor travelled to San Diego as a guest of Cisco.

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