Kansas City, Missouri Unveils Public Data Portal

Kansas City recently unveiled a public data portal that allows residents to view traffic data and find open parking spots along the city’s downtown streetcar line. The 2.2-mile (3.54 km) smart district runs along the city’s streetcar line and includes 25 digital kiosks that offer public web access, curated local content, and a public Wi-Fi network, a set of LED streetlights and sensors monitor human and vehicular traffic as well as demographic data.

The network, funded by a public-private partnership between Cisco, Sprint, and the city, collects data from video cameras mounted within smart streetlights, which tally car and pedestrian traffic, as well as the information kiosk and Wi-Fi access points, which compile web search data and population flow.

Currently, data collection and analysis mainly focuses on traffic patterns, but developers are already looking beyond real-time data to predictive analytics that would be able to provide even more useful information and and even better urban transportation network. The city wants to include sensor installation in all future public works projects and have video sensors start measuring bicycle traffic, in part to help inform the expansion of the city’s bike share system.

As the network is built on an open platform accessible by outside programmers and developers, the smart city investment also helps tech firms and startups. “We now have the chance to experiment with new technology and infrastructure,” stated Aaron Deacon, managing director of KC Digital Drive, a local non-profit supporting the tech sector. “There are a lot of emerging IoT opportunities around city deployments and data. The city and the academic community are both looking at new ways to use the data, and everyone is looking how to get engaged with all the new opportunities presented by real-time data.”

“This is the first of its kind system in the country, perhaps the world,” says Bob Bennett, Kansas City’s Chief Innovation Officer. “It’s a platform that’s now open to the public, as well as citizen entrepreneurs.”