Becoming a "Smart City"

On New Year’s Day, The New York Times posted an article detailing the relationship our city has with up and coming technology, and how we’re finding ways to incorporate it into our daily lives. Some of it is exciting, and some of it has posed questions of concern.

The article acknowledges advancements in technology that will work as tools to “help grow, improve school systems and air quality, and make traffic move faster” in regards to city life on a daily basis. The tools we’ve tested and implemented so far have created positive exposure for the city on a national scale.

It’s true that Kansas City has done an excellent job in reviewing and testing projects before implementing them city-wide. Yet, just as the NYT article admits, there are other cities that have run into problems:

“In Seattle, officials this year began to dismantle a network of surveillance cameras and wireless devices that the police had deemed vital in fighting crime, but that drew complaints over the network’s ability to track cellphones.

Several government officials in Toronto were fired this month after they tried to rush through a large technology project proposed by a company affiliated with Google.

And high-tech criminals have also presented problems: In Atlanta, hackers broke into the City Hall network this year and demanded a ransom to unlock it.”

This technology cannot be pursued simply for exposure. The cost of making mistakes is too high for Kansas Citians to act on these projects with an accelerated process.

As I’ve stated before, we welcome Kansas City’s work as a “Smart City.” That said, we also have to make sure we build an equitable and transparent smart city as well. There is a real concern for the the effects technology and surveillance can play on specific groups and neighborhoods. As quoted in Mr. Williams article, “I have a concern about monitoring inner cities in a different way than other neighborhoods. Is this going to accrue to the detriment of young black men?”

To be a smart city, KC needs to act smart when implementing these new tools. There is no room to be reckless or impulsive with technology when it has the potential to affect our livelihoods on a daily basis. As Mayor, I will work harder than anyone else to ensure that the technology we consider will be vetted, tested, and incorporated into our city to the benefit of everyone.

-Q

Read full article here

Quinton Lucas