How the Journey of Data is Transforming Kansas City

The article “How the Journey of Data Can Transform Cities” recently appeared on the official Cisco corporate blog as a guest post by Herb Sih, Managing Partner of Think Big Partners. As a follow up to this article and in response to the subsequent questions that have come up, here is a consolidated excerpt of the responses:

Q.  Why is the Smart and Connected City Kansas City project so important and how is it different?

A.  This project is important for many reasons. First, the rapid evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) technology demands real life use cases to be identified, tested, validated and ultimately deployed faster and more effectively than any other prior technology innovation process. The level of risk associated with inferior testing, and the complexity that should be required that can be very costly, should be mitigated substantially based on the way this rollout is designed.

Kansas City will become one of the largest IoT cities in the world, with Smart and Connected City technology focused on high value infrastructure or citizen experience problems, which has never been done before to date.

Additionally, we will operate a Living Lab where we will identify Applications to fill gaps in municipal technology needs. Turning a city into a platform where entrepreneurs and developers can easily plugin and deploy new applications in real life has never been done before at this scale.

Q.  Tell us more about the Living Lab, and how did it come to fruition?

A.  The Living Lab was the byproduct of a reverse innovation process we use, in which we do an analysis of the needs of a potential user, in this case the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and look for ways to match solutions against high value problems.

An additional overlay, we also consider the future aspirations of each municipal service or city focus area, and look for ways that technology can enable their long term goals. Where gaps exist between a viable, acceptable solution and a high value problem, we then use a reverse innovation process to find a solution – or foster an innovation process to commercialize one.

We think some of the best, most powerful emerging technologies will come from entrepreneurs, startups, ideas that haven’t been able to be properly supported through a traditional corporate innovation path, universities and more.

The Living lab was the realization that the innovation and the entrepreneur ecosystem could be mobilized to develop the missing solutions. The Living Lab could be a great vehicle to carefully test them with the ultimate hopes in speeding up the commercialization process.

We simply took the gaps that the City had in employing technology to solve problems, and focused on looking for the right ways to fill them.

Q.  What do you think will be the impact for the Internet of Things industry?

A.  We think Kansas City, Smart and Connected City partners and the Living Lab will have a profound impact on the Internet of Things space. We think we can attract some of the best IoT and Smart City ideas from around the world to Kansas City and offer a meaningful, risk managed way to test them in an actual end user (customer) condition.

We also believe that Kansas City has a history of being entrepreneurial, collaborative and hard working. We think we can create an environment where the brightest minds can test associated ideas, share lessons learned and help speed up the overall commercialization process for everyone by working hard together. We think this model can work to change how IoT commercialization is done, reducing time to market for enterprise level solutions and benefiting everyone involved.

Q.  How does someone become involved in the Smart and Connect City project in Kansas City or the Living Lab?

A.  We are starting to release more information soon. All relevant details will come out beginning in early Q1 2015. We will inform people on the areas of focus, the process to become involved depending on your role and be looking for people and companies with an expertise or interest in this space to contact us.

We will also begin outreach in Q1 2015 to partners, the various entrepreneur communities around the world and begin an open innovation model that will seek out Internet of Things innovation opportunities. More information will come from Cisco, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Think Big Partners and a few other key partners.

If you’d like to stay up to do date on the living lab or what’s happening in Kansas City, signup here.

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About Herb Sih

Herb Sih is Managing Partner for Think Big Partners, an innovation-driven firm focused on advising the world's most progressive-minded cities, companies and entrepreneurs. Herb has a deep background in advising entrepreneurs and high growth companies, accelerating innovation and helping communities solve complex problems by building smart cities and connected technologies using human-centered design principles.

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