KC Digital Drive will lead region’s agenda for a connected and innovative digital community
When Google chose Kansas City as the site for its ultra high-speed Internet experiment, Mayors Sly James and Joe Reardon recognized the huge opportunity for Kansas City and appointed the Mayors’ Bistate Innovation Team to develop a playbook to take full advantage.
We are pleased to announce the formation of KC Digital Drive, a region-wide digital leadership network to build and support innovation and civic capacity in the new digital economy. The formation of this regional network is a key recommendation in the MBIT playbook.
Mike Burke and Dr. Ray Daniels, who co-chaired the Mayors’ Bistate Innovations Team have agreed to continue their work by chairing a formational leadership council for KC Digital Drive. This team of civic and business leaders will guide the direction of KC Digital Drive and work to establish support throughout the community.
Aaron Deacon has been hired as managing director of the KC Digital Drive initiative. In this role he is charged with coordinating resources and organizations throughout Kansas City and beyond to execute the specific plays outlined in the playbook, including initiatives around digital inclusion, education, innovation and entrepreneurship, health care and more.
Deacon worked closely with MBIT to develop its playbook, and he has been active over the past year in helping to maximize the Google Fiber opportunity. He helped to organize the Building the Gigabit City community brainstorming session last fall and launched the Give Us a Gig effort for community education, engagement and advocacy for gigabit-speed fiber-to-the-home. Deacon also serves as the president of the Social Media Club of Kansas City, and is founder of the market research and strategic planning company Curiolab.
The formation of KC Digital Drive builds on a strong series of deliverables that have begun since the Playbook’s June release, including (with lead organizational partner in parentheses):
- Launch KC, a strategy to attract and develop information technology entrepreneurs and professionals in the emerging digital communities within the Crossroads Arts District and throughout Greater Downtown Kansas City. (Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Mo.)
- The Digital Sandbox project to develop Union Station as an innovation hub and develop a proof-of-concept center with a focus on technology transfer. (Innovation Center at UMKC)
- The “Paint the Town Green” initiative which helped to ensure 90 percent of eligible neighborhoods qualified for Google’s fiber-to-the-home offering. (Social Media Club of Kansas City)
- A working partnership with US Ignite to develop and implement pilot projects for gigabit Internet applications (Mid-America Regional Council)
- The Gigabit City Summit, a series of TelePresence conversations between Kansas City and leaders from Barcelona, Amsterdam, Singapore and other cities leading the way in next generation connectivity (Cisco, Curiolab, Brainzooming, Sandel and Associates)
- Mayor James and Mayor Reardon’s participation in the Smart City Expo and World Congress in Barcelona in November, where they will present the ongoing story of innovation and collaboration in Kansas City (KC Digital Drive)
Immediate next steps will be to prioritize playbook initiatives; develop digital inclusion strategies; redesign the www.kcdigitaldrive.org website to report to the community and to track ongoing progress of the playbook; and align specific pilot projects for neighborhoods and institutions as they come online with gigabit connectivity.