Sprint Corp, Cisco Systems, Inc. Sign Kansas City “Smart City” Agreement

Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) signed an agreement on Thursday, committing to establish and manage a free intelligent Wi-Fi network along an under-construction streetcar line in Kansas City. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) will provide the software components for the development of the “Smart City” set of services, along with the Wi-Fi hardware for the new venture. According to the statements released by Cisco’s officials, this new venture is chained to one of the most extensive smart city projects in North America.

According to Sprint, the company is the nation’s first cellular service provider to take such a significant step in the development of a smart and connected city. The venture, spanning over $15 million, is aimed at upgrading the infrastructure and promoting technological innovation in downtown Kansas City, specifically along the streetcar line.

Despite the fact that the city manager Troy Schulte signed an agreement that was approved by the Kansas City Council in April, the signed documents were not released to be published in the Kansas Business Journal. Chris Hernandez, a city spokesman, said that the documents will be released shortly.

Mr. Schulte, together with the city’s chief innovation officer Ashley Hand and Mayor Sly James, said during a meeting with select media officials that the agreement calls for Sprint to head the development of a public Wi-Fi network in the city. They also announced that Cisco will be chiefly responsible for developing the “Smart + Connected Communities” program, which involves building of a network of smart LED street lights, digital kiosks, and “video as a sensor” in the area covered by the venture. The sensors will be used for multiple purposes such as snow removal in the winters and monitoring of streetcar movements.

Sprint said that its new venture will help city services to be connected to ease parking and traffic issues, manage waste systems, control street lights, and offer information and maps in kiosks along the streetcar line. Sprint compared the new venture with similar efforts observed in some European cities, including Hamburg, Copenhagen, and Barcelona.

The data analytics will be operated by Pinsight Media+, a subsidiary of Sprint, along with the advertising platform developed on the crest of the Wi-Fi network. In a statement, Sprint’s chief technology officer Stephen Bye referred to the new venture as a groundbreaking initiative. “Delivering Wi-Fi connectivity is a great fit for Sprint and enables our customers to more easily use both cellular and Wi-Fi for a better mobile experience,” he said in the company’s release.

Back in December, a Cisco executive referred to the all-inclusive Kansas Smart City project as a “Goldilocks project,” because it is a mid-scale venture — not too small, not too big — while it could still guide Cisco and its allies in offering smart services to other cities. The Kansas City Council voted back in May to build a contract with Cisco and its allies for the smart city venture; however, there wasn’t any clue back then if Sprint would be a part of it.

Out of the $15.7 million expected to be invested in the project, Kansas City will pool in $3.7 million, while another $12 million is expected to be invested by Cisco and its allies over the course of the next 10 years. The streetcar line, scheduled to open in 2016 with free rides, will likely cost another $102 million.

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