It is no surprise that Kansas City, Missouri, is working its way to the top of the list of progressive smart cities in the U.S.

The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo, which took place in Austin, Texas, the past two years, is becoming a leading conference in the sector. In June 2017, organizers announced that the 2018 conference will be in the Kansas City Convention Center.

Conference leadership considered a short list of potential cities, and Kansas City surfaced quickly. Known for its streetcar, free public Wi-Fi, Google Fiber, improving water infrastructure and power for refined data centers, the city continues to pursue opportunities to prepare for the future of smart infrastructure.

"The city’s 2.2-mile smart district — complete with a public data portal and a smart streetcar corridor —is the first of its kind in the country that is open to the public," says Laura Benold, managing editor of Smart Cities Connect. "With so much going on, we can’t wait to be on-site." 

The conference, first held in 2016, was initially intended to relocate every year. After staying in Austin for the first two years, it’ll make its way to the Midwest March 26-29, 2018, and is expected to draw more than 2,500 attendees. The conference brings together 400-plus global city leaders representing more than 250 cities, with the goals of advancing engagement, improving lives, and partnering with innovative technology and service providers.

Burns & McDonnell, based in Kansas City, is a global AEC firm leading several smart city initiatives. I’m fortunate to be one of the people spearheading our involvement in these initiatives.

Kansas City has a good reputation. We are fortunate in this city to have a conference like Smart Cities Connect showcase to the rest of the country and North America that Kansas City is a great place to live, work and play. We are building the 21st-century infrastructure to be an attractive, well-run and vibrant city. 

As smart infrastructure and government initiatives gain momentum across the globe, this conference furthers the conversation in a city that is fully embracing the journey.


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As a vice president for Burns & McDonnell, Mike’s top priority is helping electric and gas transmission and distribution clients take on complex projects. His team provides strong, smart and sustainable solutions in areas including critical infrastructure, the smart grid, smart cities and emerging technologies.