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How Cloud Made Kansas City a Smart City

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent pocket guide, “How Cloud Powers Better Constituent Services With Data: What You Need to Know.” Download the full guide here.

Kansas City, Missouri shows how communities can thrive by using cloud to handle Internet of Things (IoT) networks generating vast amounts of data. IoT networks are made of physical devices that can store, handle and exchange data.

Now boasting a population of 2.1 million people, Kansas City has grown dramatically over the last decade. Then-CIO Bob Bennett said that a major factor in that growth is Kansas City’s push to become a smart city using cloud.

“Ten years ago, we had fewer than 5,000 people living downtown,” he said. “We have seen a 520% growth in the number of residents downtown and a 400% growth in development investment. I believe our smart city project has played a prominent role in getting people excited about living here.”

The cloud contributed to this expansion by helping dramatically transform Kansas City’s downtown. A two-mile corridor there now contains 328 Wi-Fi access points, 178 smart streetlights, 25 video kiosks, pavement sensors, video cameras, and more. It is a booming IoT network with multiple data insights waiting to be found.

These devices generate heaps of data, and Kansas City uses the cloud to make sense of this information.

For example, city officials used datasets about road conditions and traffic patterns to predict where potholes were most likely to occur. Bennett said that the city expects the analysis to save 50% it would have spent on emergency repairs.

The cloud is also helping Kansas City understand and prevent crime patterns with datasets. The city now combines crime statistics with educational, transit, weather, and other data to predict future trends.

“We want to show correlations among conditions that lead to crime and the interventions that work,” Bennett said.

Kansas City is additionally using cloud-driven data to pinpoint the location of vacant buildings in the area. By using permit and traffic data, city officials can find empty structures with 85% accuracy.

Cloud supports initiatives such as these by scaling to meet the size of any government data. Kansas City, for instance, had more than 4,200 existing datasets before launching the city’s urban analytics and intelligence platform on cloud.

The city’s successes are starting to impact neighboring communities. For instance, Kansas and Missouri’s state governments are now providing the city with more than 4 million vehicle records daily.

“From a digital perspective, we’re getting to a single data lake for regional data, turning this from a smart city into a smart region,” Bennett said.

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