Visions of a futuristic smart city have been floating around for ages now, even as far back as being depicted in old cartoons from the 1950s. A new contest from the U.S. Department of Transportation, known as the Smart City Initiative, looks to make a modern, realistic smart city a reality. A good few cities are vying for the $40 million prize and recognition as the foremost connected city in America, but only a select few are in the running to make the cut. Among them is Kansas City, Missouri, who recently announced the installation of multiple facilities to help citizens and tourists alike stay connected and aid in the delivery of city services.
For starters, pictured above, they've install 25 smart kiosks throughout the city that will interactively display things like local news, nearby events and deals, city contact information and police bulletins. These are accompanied by smart street lights, 125 of them to be exact, that can conserve electricity and allow a bit of a better stargazing experience by turning off when nobody is under them. They also perform anonymous analytics, taking down stats such as the times a public place is the most full, what direction people are going and how many people are around, to help local businesses target their potential customers better. A brand new streetcar to help get around the city is also on offer, a project which cost the city about $100 million. Tying it all together is roughly 50 blocks worth of free public Wi-Fi coverage. While accessible to people in the city for their internet needs, the Wi-Fi will also serve as a backend for the various smart initiatives.
Partnering up with Sprint and Cisco, Kansas City plans to continue adding smart devices to the city and pursuing connectivity and future-proofing projects, such as adding dedicated lanes on their roads for self-driving cars. While it may not quite match up to Sidewalk Labs' vision for the smart city of the future just yet, the original home of Google Fiber is working hard to match and surpass tech hubs like New York City and San Francisco in its bid to take the Smart City title.