Government & Politics

KC installs first of 25 Smart City kiosks downtown

Two new 7-foot-tall kiosks, looking something like giant iPhones, were installed Monday morning in downtown Kansas City, just in time for the Big 12 tournament.

The two kiosks, in the 1300 block of Grand Boulevard, are the first of what will be 25 kiosks along and near the downtown streetcar route. They are designed to give residents and visitors access to all sorts of information about downtown activities, entertainment and services.

“This will be the first physical manifestation of what we’re calling the Smart City initiative,” said city spokesman Chris Hernandez. “And what’s cool about these kiosks is they will help you figure out what you can do in downtown Kansas City.”

Thirteen of the kiosks will be at platforms along the downtown Kansas City streetcar route, and 12 will be on nearby streets. They will have information about such things as where the streetcar vehicle is along its route; what restaurants are offering specials that day; and what theater, arts and sporting events are scheduled.

There will also be a 911 button to report emergencies and ways to report problems with city services to the 311 Action Center.

These two kiosks, in front of the College Basketball Experience and the No Other Pub in the Power & Light District, go live Wednesday for the start of the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. The remaining kiosks should be installed in time for the streetcar public opening May 6. The entire route is also supposed to have free WiFi service by then.

Kansas City’s Smart City initiative is envisioned as the most comprehensive in North America. It is costing nearly $16 million, including $3.7 million from city government and $12 million from private companies, including Sprint and Cisco Systems.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley