Officials from networking giant Cisco and Kansas City, Mo. have signed a letter of intent to launch a new network for smart city services.
Elements of the project call for designing mobile apps for citizen access, digital interactive kiosks, smart street lights and video surveillance in an area called the city's innovation district.
The project is designed to complement the city's build out of a two-mile downtown streetcar path, Cisco said in a statement yesterday.
Kansas City, Mo. and its neighbor, Kansas City, Kans., are already getting plenty of outside attention from tech giant Google, which picked the area for its first deployment of Google Fiber, an initiative to install fiber optic cable there and in other cities.
Google won't say how many households are connected to Google Fiber in the area, but it has already installed 6,000 miles of fiber optic cable. Meanwhile, cable provider Time Warner has provisioned 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for its Internet customers to use from mobile devices in various Kansas City area locales, including the popular eight-block restaurant and bar district on the edge of downtown called the Power & Light District.
While some citizen groups have been concerned that Google Fiber isn't reaching enough low-income families in the area with gigabit fiber, there's a general recognition by city officials that people of all income levels use smartphones and other wireless devices fairly widely. That can only help the Cisco initiative with Kansas City for wireless services.
Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James said the initiative with Cisco promises to connect city services and information with visitors and residents "like never before."
Third-party app developers will also have an opportunity to build unique and innovative apps for public use.
Cisco will use its Smart+Connected Communities reference architectures to evaluate the initiative and will work with the city and a business consultancy called Think Big Partners to manage a "living lab" incubator for the tech startup community.
Wim Elfrink, Cisco's executive vice president of industry solutions, credited city leaders with leading the "charge on innovation in the Midwest."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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