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Metro plays host to first ever KC Digital Lab conference

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Pay phones, fax machines, record players; older pieces of technology, but things you may have used before right? Times and technology move quickly. This constant change affects all of us, including those who run our cities. Kansas City, Missouri is working to keep up with the curve.

Attendees of the first-ever KC Digital Lab faced the front of the room in the new conference center at KCPD headquarters, but many of them kept faces and fingers glued to screens. In that setting it wasn't considered rude; it was encouraged.

Friday, the city unveiled a “Digital Road Map” to a room full of communicators from different parts of KC. The blueprint outlines a two-fold plan. One goal is to make sure residents are plugged in and the other is to make sure city work processes are streamlined and innovative.

City spokesperson Chris Hernandez said, “We want to make it easy for people to engage with the city and make sure they are getting the information they want and how we’re spending their tax dollars.”

Ashley Hand works as the city’s chief innovative officer. She said history should prove the digital drive is working.

Hand said, “Our municipal court went paperless in 2011, as first in the nation, so we know it can be done.”

A paperless City Hall is part of the plan discussed at the forum.

“Instead of having to come to City Hall to do something, you could potentially access a service through a website or an app,” Hand explained.

Technology plans include the KC Street Car construction. Some infrastructure is already in place that would let the city manage different parts of the street car, including street lights. There are also plans for kiosks that would offer community services; places along the route that would let people buy tickets to city events.

Hand said, “It would potentially make our street car the most technologically-advanced in North America; a pretty exciting claim to be able to make.” Lofty goals but ones these communicators say would keep Kansas City on the cutting edge.

Carolyn Anderson is the Social Media Manager for VisitKC.

She said, “I tweeted out earlier the fact that we’re all in this together is so true because it really shows a unified communication strategy and a unified love for the city and what we want it to do, which is thrive.”