The city council of Joplin, Missouri has approved the use of federal and state grants received for tornado recovery projects for a smart city initiative and a $30,000 membership to the non-profit organization, U.S. Ignite. U.S. Ignite will provide consulting services, potential funding sources, and other assistance to obtain the services and technology needed to implement the program.
The primary goals of the initiative are to expand access to fast internet connectivity citywide, develop smart education and job training programs, and create an innovation district within the city to attract tech-based business and entrepreneurs. Other goals of the program are to increase the efficiency of city operations by providing online city forms, permit applications, and other digital city services. The city hopes to incorporate digital kiosks, smart traffic signals to reduce congestion, buildings that use less energy, streetlights that provide WiFi, and smart water meters that can locate leaks into the community.
“It goes from how a business can run more efficiently, to how can we protect our citizens, to how can we make life easier for our citizens…but through the use of technology,” said assistant director of city planning and development, Patty Heagel.
Troy Bolander, the city’s Planning and Development Director, stated that businesses and institutions in the city who would benefit from the program will be asked to contribute to the $30,000 cost for the first year of services from U.S. Ignite.
“It does have to be a relationship between government, institutions and industry for this to be successful,” said Bolander. “One without the other won’t work. We believe that with this investment, we will receive more out of it than the $30,000 that it cost.”