Outgoing Kansas City CIO to lead 'smart cities swat teams'

Bob Bennett poses for the camera in Washington, D.C. in 2017. (StateScoop)

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Bob Bennett, the outgoing chief innovation officer in Kansas City, Missouri, told StateScoop Wednesday he will take a consulting position with Cities Today, the urban-development magazine and research organization, in which he will gather “smart cities swat teams” of city IT chiefs that will help other cities tackle their technology and infrastructure problems.

Bennett, who announced his departure from Kansas City government last month after three-and-a-half years with the city, will be chair of the new Cities Today Institute, a position he said will take up the majority of a new private consulting practice he is setting up once he leaves his government position April 12. In his new role, Bennett said he’ll be someone city governments call upon to help them respond to emerging challenges.

“A city calls me, and I put together a team of other city CIOs who have handled that problem,” he said at the Smart Cities Connect conference in Denver this week. “And we converge upon the affected city and spend a day with them so the city has a better platform to solve the problem.”

Bennett said his new practice is meant to build upon Cities Today’s 20-20 program, a series of private events in which urban IT leaders from around the world meet with the tech industry, financial institutions and nongovernmental organization to exchange ideas on technology and development. Cities Today holds monthly events, which are limited to its selected municipalities, while Bennett said his new practice will respond on an ad-hoc basis as inquiring governments need.

Alexander Braszko (LinkedIn)

Kansas City is in the process of selecting a vendor for what Bennett previously described as a “comprehensive smart city partnership.” The winning bidder will be responsible for developing an integrated suite of environmental sensors, wireless networks and data analytics platforms, beyond an existing 54-block area where that technology is currently deployed, according to a solicitation issued last year.

Bennett also used his appearance at the Denver conference to introduce his successor in Kansas City, Alexander Braszko. Braszko is a U.S. Army intelligence officer who most recently served as a cyberwarfare division chief at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Bennett said Braszko came to the Kansas City government in January through the Army’s local government management fellowship program, which places outgoing soldiers in roles with municipalities. Bennett, himself a 25-year Army veteran, added that the two crossed paths in Baghdad during the Iraq War.

Braszko will have a six-month contract with the Kansas City government, Bennett said, though the city has a mayoral election this summer to replace the outgoing Sly James, who appointed Bennett in 2015. A primary Tuesday sent two members of the city council, Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas to a June 18 runoff.

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Bob Bennett, Cities Today, Kansas City, Smart Cities
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