From high waters to high tech, Parkville flood repair will include public WiFi

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PARKVILLE, Mo. —  As construction crews continue to rebuild Parkville’s popular riverfront areas after last spring’s devastating flooding, the city is planning a bit more than a rebuild.

You could even say Parkville is re-booting.

“Twenty-first century cities are populated by 21st century citizens. They expect to be connected,” Bob Bennett said.

Bennett made a name for himself in recent years as former Kansas City Mayor Sly James’ chief innovation officer.

After a 25-year Army career specializing in battlefield logistics and strategy planning, Bennett oversaw Kansas City’s installation of “smart kiosks” along the KC Streetcar line. Bennett, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, developed systems planning protocols for General David Petraeus in Baghdad, Iraq.

Bennett then put that battlefield know-how to work for James “smart city” initiatives from 2016 to 2019.

Now that Bennett is working in the private sector, he recently launched his new company, B Squared Civic Solutions. He specializes in helping cities across the nation bridge the digital divide.

Naturally, he said, that includes Parkville, the place he now calls home.

“Because if I’m going to have a smart city company, I ought to make sure the community where I live is one, too,” Bennett said.

The 2-3 year project calls for a series of WiFi-enabled “smart kiosks” along Platte Landing and English Landing parks on Parkville’s riverfront.

Eventually, the connected network will extend along Parkville’s historic downtown Main Street. Bennett envisions a boon for business and a kind of virtual cork for the dreaded “brain drain” of young innovators.

“We can attract great young people, who already grow up in our community, to stay here,” Bennet said. “It has the ability for you to connect with any place on the planet, and do business in those places and make a good living doing it.”

Bennett’s company is handling similar projects for Las Vegas, Nevada; Topeka, Kansas; Aurora, Illinois; and Racine, Wisconsin.

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