I’m headed to Kansas City next week to attend a public meeting put on by MBIT (Mayor’s Bistate Innovations Team) which will reveal their “playbook” for economic, cultural, health and educational activities - instigated (in part) by Google choosing the Kansas Cities as the location of their complete gigabit networking build-out.
The two mayors of both Kansas Cities (Sly James and Joe Reardon) will both be in attendance and in what promises to be an exciting meeting – they’re all going to go over a draft of the “playbook” that has been the focus and direction of the MBIT – since Sept. 2011. This playbook will have over 20 different “plays” described and requested - ranging from simple software projects to complex, economic development efforts. Many of these plays cannot be done by just local government efforts; as huge healthcare, educational and business interests are intrinsic to each “play.”
The real question will be dealt with on Tuesday – “who’s going to pay for these efforts?” That’s what I wanna hear!
This kind of macro-economic, public policy guidance is what we at Digital City Mechanics – dream about! We imagine a future where enlightened leaders and politicians, work hand-in-hand with a wide range of constituencies, connecting government, business and citizens – together. Its the script from every politicians speech book – but how many times has this type of idealism – ever actually happened?
The challenge that the two mayors of the Kansas Cities face – is “how can we pull-off these plays?” Now that we’ve written them down, reduced them to RFPs and even assigned domain experts to each requested scenario – the devil is in the details. How can we make this all happen?
Just the notion that a playbook like this is needed – is a major policy statement. San Francisco and New York City have been making hay about their efforts and its easy enough for Kansas City – to do the same. But what KC has, that NYC and SF don’t – is Google.
All bets are off – all of a sudden we have a “Perfect Storm” moment. You combine the attitude that Kansas City is an “entrepreneurial town”, with the presence of the Kauffman Foundation, brands like H&R Block, Sprint and Cerner and some plain-old Mid-western work ethic and cleanliness – and you’ve got yourself a recipe for reBranding. A new global workforce, housed in the principles of authenticity, integrity and trust – is EXACTLY what the cyber world needs.
“All roads lead through Kansas City.” They’re not just flying over us – now.
Just when it got time to move outsourcing contracts from the mistake, ridden Indians, or design gigs from snobby NYers – in comes a whole new way of doing business – on-line. A whole new way of working. A whole new way of providing value – on an on-demand “basis” = completely virtually. And its coming from Kansas City!
I’d buy that!
So next week is a crucial juncture – a milestone in the reBranding of Kansas City.
I’ll be there – pitching “Digital City Kansas City” (“DCKC”) and asking for some of those projects to do some of the work necessary to combine technology and sociology – together. So imagine a Citizen’s Dashboard that utilizes iGoogle, Google Docs, YouTube, Hangouts and Maps – while also showing folks how to get benefits from PBworks, Prezi or Dropbox. We intend on making “community engagement” our magic sauce. We can setup, operate, train, maintain, upgrade and evolve local neighborhood projects where people – from THOSE communities – work FOR their community IN their community.
The trick is in combining budgets and agendi between different agencies, goals, milestones and efforts. We believe it all comes back to taking beginning level computer skills – and getting these folks trained at an intermediate or advanced level of “intangible” knowledge. The kind of knowledge you only get after DOING a unique job, set of tasks or profession.
There are 61 communities identified on the “GiveUsaGig” site – with names attached to each community. We’d like to start there and help create value and identify reasons why citizens should care – about Google coming to KC – with those specific people and communities. Creating video newsletters, maintaining local event calendars or providing tech support to beginning level users. Holding hands and showing people – specifically – why they should care about email, playlists or blogging.
There’s a business out there – out in the neighborhoods – showing folks how to geek out and act like “the rest of us” gifted, lucky, well-to-do educated types. Combine little bits of government support, across multiple domains – and there’s enough money there to kickstart a “digital economy ecosystem” and we hope to prove that – in the Kansas Cities.
We believe the digital divide has nothing to do with owning a laptop or having access to the net. We believe the digital divide is about getting people comfortable using computers and on-line technology to get value – and make a living – off the web. Bridge that gap and we’re starting to create a LOT of jobs – for normal people.
- establish our local cred and rep
- build our local subsidiary
- and hopefully – earn trust
By implementing some of these requested plays and taking macro-economic principles and applying them on the micro-economic level in the Kansas Cities.
All the almost impossible work has been done for us! The politicians are all saying the right things, business leaders and educators are saying they want it. Huge corporations and Foundations are supporting it.
And the KC Chamber of Commerce is polishing itself up and welcoming guys like me – in.
We don’t intend on being the only “digital economy ecosystem” engine in the Kansas Cities. We just intend on being the first.