Will Kansas City Be The First Smart City? Mayor James Thinks So
With $40 million from the Department of Transportation, Kansas City would build on the network Google Fiber brought to town five years ago.
That’s the pitch Mayor Sly James made Thursday before U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. Kansas City is one of seven finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge.
“This isn’t about technology,” James said. “It’s not about streets. It’s about people.”
Some of Kansas City’s ideas for revolutionizing the future of transit include autonomous electric connected vehicles and mobile learning centers to improve educational outcomes east of Troost.
“Now, we recognize that in the Prospect corridor of Kansas City on the East Side, opportunity was sparse,” James said. “Where people are low-income, undereducated (and) die quicker than they should for one reason or another, whether it’s violence or poor health care.”
James would like to see the digital kiosks installed along the downtown streetcar route installed in other parts of the city. He thinks they could help tell the story of Kansas City’s East Side.
“Is there a job opening some place I can apply for?” James said. “Is there a place where I can go get something to eat?”
James was in Washington, D.C., to make his pitch, but some Kansas Citians joined the conversation virtually as they watched the webcast.
Foxx said the winning city would have to demonstrate how it could be a lab for other places trying to bring their transit system into the 21st century.
“We’re going to have 70 million more people competing for space on our roadways, on our railways, on our runways,” Foxx said.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.