Kisumu – the first “Smart City” in Kenya?
Kisumu City is set to be the first “Smart city” in Kenya thanks to the agreement that was signed between Liquid Telecom Kenya and the County Government of Kisumu. The initiative that is projected to be at its peak in the next two years courtesy of a new KShs 54 million state-of-the-art metro network, will not only increase internet speeds in the lakeside city but will also put Kisumu in world map.
A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – the city’s assets include, but are not limited to, local departments information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services.
The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs.
ICT allows city officials to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems, data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analyzed. The information and knowledge gathered are keys to tackling inefficiency.
ICT is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to improve contact between citizens and government. Smart city applications are developed with the goal of improving the management of urban flows and allowing for real time responses to challenges. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple ‘transactional’ relationship with its citizens. Yet, the term itself remains unclear  to its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations and subject.
Areas that are expected to be covered by the 12.4 km metro network include Kisumu Central Business District, Milimani, Kondele up to Kibos, Kicomi and Migosi Junction. It will be the first step towards transforming Kisumu in to a Smart City, as part of an initiative developed under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation in Italy last month.
Shall this project succeed then Kisumu City will be among some of the best known Smart Cities in the world such as Vienna, Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Dubai. This kind of system has been used successfully to manage city’s assets and resources such Schools, hospitals, transport among others.
The CEO Liquid Telecom Kenya Mr Ben Rorbets said Technology is opening ways to save costs, lives and losses, as well as enhancing opportunities, markets and education, and a fast and reliable. And tha Internet connection is essential as a first foundation in developing all of these opportunities.
This initiative is expected to create an enabling environment towards this transformation to a Smart City, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Other than residential and business areas, the initiative is expected to benefit colleges and polytechnics such as the University of Nairobi, Maseno University, the Catholic University of East Africa, Kenya Institute of Management and Kisumu Polytechnic, as well as hospitals such as Aga Khan, Milimani Hospital and Marie Stopes. It will also benefit Kisumu International Airport and hotels in the area.
Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include cyberville, digital city, electronic communities, flexicity, information city, intelligent city, knowledge-based city, MESH city, telecity, teletopia, Ubiquitous city, wired city.
Additional information from Biz Apex