Executive Summary

Xaqt is excited about the opportunity to expand upon the success built with Kansas City over the past several years, and we are prepared to work with Kansas City to program manage the end to end lifecycle across each of the functional initiatives.

The value that Xaqt provides closely aligns with many of the priorities that we believe are critical for success given the magnitude and complexity of the program.

These include:

  • Objectivity and Transparency – In a complex and highly visible program, it is imperative that the prime contractor maintain a level of separation to avoid conflicts of interest.  Xaqt’s core focus is on all things data, and we intend to work with Kansas City to use available data to drive a transparent sourcing process for downstream projects.
  • Collaboration and Trust – We very much value the relationships that Xaqt has built with Kansas City over the years.  Xaqt understands that administration of a city with competing programs can be very challenging, and we hope to help achieve balance across groups particularly when there is a need to prioritize time and resources.
  • Reliable Partners – It has been our privilege to work with many of the departments in Kansas City with our existing deployment of the Xaqt Smart City Engage Platform.  We will work with you to help select the best of breed partners, many of whom Xaqt already has existing relationships, to maximize value and opportunities for success.
  • Kansas City First – While the success of any large program is dependent on numerous suppliers, we believe in customer first.  Xaqt will facilitate the overall program with the explicit intent of helping Kansas City retain control over the direction and quality of each of the work streams.

Our proposal addresses the full scope and duration contemplated in the RFP. Given the breadth and scope that is requested by Kansas City, we understand that selectively partnering with other suppliers as well as close collaboration with numerous departments within Kansas City is critical to success.  We believe the smaller size of Xaqt allows us to be nimbler and more flexible towards the needs of the city.  At the same time, we hope that our partnership to date has demonstrated our ability and willingness to deliver.  In the comments below we address areas where partnering with other organizations may be appropriate to bring the best scale and experience.

Given today’s many unknowns and the rapidly changing business landscape, our suggestion and deeper focus of our response is on the planning and design, sourcing, and mobilization of the broader initiative – the first year of the program.

About Xaqt

Xaqt creates products that transform how organizations and governments use their data. We believe that with data and the right technology, people and institutions can solve hard problems and change the world for the better. We work with cities to build products addressing big urban problems. To do this, we have built and are continuing to grow a platform and set of urban applications to accelerate innovation in cities around the world.

Our platform was built from the ground-up to power Data Smart Cities. Whether you’re the Mayor, the Director of Public Works, or a first responder, Smart City Engage can be tailored to meet individual or group information needs. Xaqt’s scalable yet highly stable architecture is designed to grow as the City’s needs grow.

Xaqt has received several public acknowledgements for our work. These awards include: Amazon Web Services City on a Cloud Challenge Winner 2017, Gold Edison Award for Collective Collaboration for the Kansas City, MO Smart City Initiative (along with KCMO, Cisco, Smart City Media and Sprint) and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Map of the Month for Kansas City, MO Digital Equity Mapping. Additionally, Xaqt was recognized by CIO Review as one of the Top Most Promising Smart City Companies in 2017 and has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Government Technology, TechCrunch, TechRepublic, StateScoop, and International Business Times. Xaqt was also featured in a case study with Kansas City by Amazon Web Services.

Xaqt’s Awards and Recognition for Smart City Analytics

  • Gold Edison Award for Collective Collaboration for the Kansas City, MO Smart City Initiative (along with KCMO, Cisco, Smart City Media and Sprint)
  • Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Map of the Month
  • Recognized by CIO Review as one of the Top Most Promising Smart City Companies in 2017
  • Amazon Web Services City on a Cloud Partner Innovation Challenge Winner 2017

When we engage with a customer, we become an integrated part of the team. We work in partnership to add capacity and capabilities that help you execute and scale your vision.

We believe leveraging our team of resident experts will accelerate the overall success of your Smart City deployment.

XAQT TEAM PARTNERSHIP

As a leading company in smart cities, Xaqt has developed relationships and partnerships across the spectrum. However, for this proposal, we did not preselect any Financiers, Telecom providers or solution specific partners. In our view, it would be premature and presumptuous to predetermine what is in the City’s best interest based on our perspective alone. The exceptions to this are highlighted below and represent key Xaqt partners that are as agnostic as we are. Additionally, several of the City's existing vendors and potential partners are exclusively represented in other proposals. Rather than create more discord and divisiveness amongst the City’s vendors, Xaqt presents a path for the City to partner with us in selecting the best vendors for each role. Let's put a dream team together.

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROJECT SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES

With this project, Kansas City (KC) is launching Phase 2 of its smart city transformation with greater appreciation for sensor-generated data and its ability to fine-tune algorithms to predict future behavior. Kansas City seeks to extend its current Smart district successes, and add net new capabilities to become the smartest City in North America within five to ten years and remain among the thought leaders for Smart City efforts around the world. The City’s high-level Smart City objectives are improving mobility, accessibility, safety, and the quality of life of residents. Key objectives of this project are as follows:

  1. Improve digital equity and inclusion and expand technical literacy of City residents in alignment with the City’s Digital Equity Strategic Plan, and via improved connectivity infrastructure.
  2. Maintain privacy for residents. The City is committed to ensuring transparency and clarity of practices in how data is being both protected and utilized by the Program Manager and vendors.
  3. Increase citizen engagement and access to City government
  4. Foster civic innovation and support local entrepreneurship
  5. Drive economic development.
  6. Improve City operational and policy decision-making through data and analytics, and a data analytics platform.
  7. Upgrade and expand the City’s connectivity infrastructure that will support the improvement and expansion of the initiatives described in this RFP, such as the Connected Corridor, Smart Intersections, Lighting upgrade such that will improve mobility, public safety and environmental sustainment.
  8. Access new and innovative financial opportunities for the City and the Program Manager and its partners.

PROJECT APPROACH

For every engagement, we begin with a vision. Kansas City has an expressed vision of being recognized globally as the world’s most connected Smart City. As partners to Kansas City’s first phase of this initiative, we fully understand and embrace that vision. With its well detailed plans for its Phase 2 Smart City initiative – Comprehensive Smart City Partnership, we are certain that Kansas City is well positioned to gain and keep that recognition as it uses real time data and the IoT to deliver basic services more efficiently to its citizens while attracting economic development and entrepreneurs to its city with its cutting-edge infrastructure.

Beginning the Journey

Xaqt is prepared to partner with Kansas City throughout the program journey.  The first year of the journey is critical to success, and we suggest that we begin this journey by focusing on the first year of the program.  Doing so allows us to jointly better understand some of the unknowns and the make informed decisions that are dependencies for the 30 year operating lifespan of the program.  Some of the benefits of this approach include:

  • The overall approach gets pressure tested by multiple parties
  • Key vendors are selected
  • Physical and technology architecture decisions are made
  • The master program plan is created
  • The governance across a complex set of parties is defined
  • Financing is secured
  • Guidance from new city administration is provided

These are only a small subset of the important priorities facing our journey in just the first year, and we look forward to engaging further with you on the initiative.

Suggested Program Operating Structure

Our delivery approach is organized by activity areas built under the core program management team.  This team would engage with leads assigned by Kansas City and collectively ultimately report to a steering committee.  Given the broad scope contemplated in the RFP, experience in each of the future project areas will also be required.  As such, our suggested program operating structure for the first phase of the program is shown below.

While not necessary to assign City employees full-time to work teams, we suggest active participation in each of the vertical delivery and horizontal functional teams. Furthermore, we would anticipate the selected vendors to participate actively in the combined Xaqt-City-Vendor teams.

We fully expect to revisit this structure as initiatives progress, and future work areas are likely to include Testing, Deployment, Support, and Operations.

Program Leadership, Program Management, and the Steering Committee

We anticipate the program leadership team to be comprised of a full time Xaqt consulting executive paired with a dedicated Kansas City leader.  They would be supported by program management resources who would perform the day to day activities required to keep a complex multi-disciplinary program operating smoothly.  In addition to building and maintaining the overall program plan, they would also support the individual work streams to align project plans to the master plan.  This group would also be responsible for timely data collection, review of progress and performance, and managing detailed budget earned / burned analysis.

The program leadership team participates in and works directly with the Smart City Steering Committee.  The selection of this committee, if not already defined during the prime vendor selection process, should be one of the early activities of the engagement.  We suggest a cross-section of senior stakeholders from impacted functional areas as well as the innovation and technology teams’ leadership.

The program steering committee is responsible for collaboratively representing the numerous functional departments of Kansas City.  Representative activities of the steering committee may include program plan review and approval, sourcing decision review, financial viability review and final recommendation, prioritization escalations, and other similar activities.

If selected as the prime vendor, Xaqt anticipates filling all of the requisite roles directly with resources experienced in complex program delivery and management.

Strategy and Planning

The existing Kansas City team and its partners have laid out clear goals for the Smart City program.  Many components of the strategy and planning have already begun based both on the physical and data work done to date as well as the vision described in the RFP.  That said, the strategy and planning team will be critical early on and at milestone points in the life of the program.  At the early stages of the program, the operating model for the program needs to be defined, socialized, and agreed upon.  This naturally drives questions on governance and decision responsibilities based not just on practical project related activities but also upon city policy and legal considerations.  With regards to the actual capabilities being developed, it is important to stay engaged with the latest technologies and learning available from other related programs, both public and private.  We would anticipate that this team would be instrumental in not just performing research but in recommending how this could be applied in Kansas City and dynamically through the program.

Numerous options are available for resourcing this team.  While Xaqt would help oversee the Strategy and Planning team through the PMO and participate in the team due to its critical nature, we plan on working with a partner approved by Kansas City to source this team.

Change Management

Many robust approaches towards change management exist in the market.  However, rather than force fitting Kansas City into an existing methodology, Xaqt believes in a pragmatic purposeful approach tailored to Kansas City’s unique circumstances – the public sector, an ambitious smart cities program, complex city operating model, changing leadership tied to elections, and other considerations.  Therefore, we anticipate collaborating closely with city leadership and the steering committee to create and execute the change management plan.

In order to create a comprehensive change management plan, it is necessary to align on principles and goals in advance.  To that end, we have suggested a beginning set of inputs to accelerate the alignment discussions.

  • Change management is not an isolated team.  While organized as a tower, this group should be consistently working with the other vertical and horizontal work streams to execute a consistent plan.  Of course, focus may vary depending on the phase of the program or the functional project of focus.
  • Leadership support and active participation by change agents is a must.  Organizations are significantly influenced by the priorities, passions, and behavior of their leaders.  While it is not necessary for all change agents to be full time on the team, we suggest identification of senior city personnel associated with the program to act as agents of change in their respective work areas.
  • The goal of change management is to prepare the organization and enable productive execution thus maximizing value.  To this end, we suggest a few minimum focus areas: preparation, alignment, communication, training, engagement, and measurement.

Xaqt is prepared to oversee the overall change management work stream.  We anticipate working with a third-party specialty firm for deeper expertise and scale as needed.  This core team would be supplemented by Kansas City team members and the change agents previously mentioned.

Physical Devices and Civil Engineering

A large portion of the total investment of the program, both in time and in dollars, will be in sourcing, configuring, and deploying hardware and infrastructure.  We have elected to organize the two teams in separate verticals even considering the interdependencies given the likelihood that different vendors may be selected for the two different verticals.  Additionally, the purpose of the two work stream is distinctly different: sensors and devices tied to data needs and civil engineering around physical installation and deployment.  We do foresee the two work streams to combine along each of the functional projects.

Xaqt will work directly with each of the Kansas City teams to define detailed requirements and project manage the sourcing and configuration of the devices.  We anticipate that the sourcing and selection process will be administered by the Kansas City procurement teams which we intend to work closely with.  Xaqt has existing relationships with many of the potential hardware providers such as GE for lighting and Cisco for networking. We will work with each of the functional teams in Kansas City to select and manage the best of breed device supplier optimizing product functionality, ease of configuration, cost, and device functional life.  Xaqt intends to project manage the sensors and devices work stream directly.

The civil engineering work stream has a number of complexities that go beyond requirements.  Architectural considerations, regulatory requirements, labor scheduling, union considerations, existing maintenance contracts, disruption to traffic, citizen access, to name a few.  These considerations are in addition to traditional procurement criteria – scale and experience in Kansas City, breadth of previous project work to avoid individual vendors for each functional work stream, service cost, etc.  We will work with Kansas City procurement to incorporate all of these inputs and quickly land on the best engineering and deployment vendor for the city.  Xaqt’s strengths lie in data and the software that enables managing and extracting value out of the data lifecycle.  While this allows us to be truly vendor agnostic and avoid procurement conflict of interest, we understand that additional expertise will be necessary in the selection and management of the engineering vendor.  We expect to work first with those with the right experience from within the Kansas City team and obtain additional advisory services from third party domain experts.  Xaqt’s existing engineering relationships include Burns and McDonald, Black and Veatch, Stantec and Leidos.

Project Considerations

Data Assessment

Today, Xaqt partners with the Chief Data Officer (CDO) of Kansas City to coordinate access to existing datasets. These datasets are then integrated into the MetroGraph data lake for consolidated access. As the project expands, Xaqt would bring additional resources to support the CDO with a city-wide integration effort to gather all datasets that empower the new analytics initiatives. The Xaqt team will work with each department to establish ongoing ingestion to keep the data up-to-date. As more device installations are implemented, we will work with the appropriate vendors to establish and maintain connections.

The creation of powerful data assets also can require the participation of strong leadership. Locking in access to valuable external data, for instance, may depend on forging high-level partnerships with suppliers or other regional entities. Xaqt can also act as a broker between the public and private data stakeholders, ensuring clear policy enforcement for the City.

New Data Models

While Xaqt already maintains six Smart City specific data models, the expansion initiatives will certainly require additional ones or adaptations. New business cases and new data types will require new methods for normalizing and the modeling of the data to map to required outcomes. Additionally, as data consumption models change, the underlying data platform must adapt.

Mobilizing resources

An empowered team is vital to breaking down the institutional barriers that frequently hamper efforts to supercharge decisions through data analytics. Success requires getting a diverse group of managers to coalesce around change—encouraging alignment across a wide phalanx of IT, business-lines, analytics, and training experts.

APPROACH TO THE SCOPE OF SERVICES KEY REQUIREMENTS

Described below is our approach to the key service requirements of the RFP.

WORKING RELATIONSHIP FRAMEWORK

a) Xaqt will work with the City and its partners to ensure that adequate financing and/or outcome-based funding is available for the City and partners to achieve its Smart City and economic development objectives. We expect there to be multiple options available based on the determined scope of specific projects and business models.

e) Xaqt will first partner with the City to assess the current and future value of City Assets, including data as an asset type. This will be a critical step in ensuring the City entertains the right arrangements from vendors and proposals under each pillar. This needs to be a data-driven approach.

g) As articulated throughout our proposal, Xaqt will take a data-driven and focused approach to both valuing the City’s assets, as well as identifying new opportunities to better utilize or monetize each asset.
h) We believe Xaqt’s data-driven approach to Smart City planning and execution will create clear metrics, investment and project priorities and cost reduction for the City.
j) The scale and scope of this adoption effort—which must also involve formal training, on-the-job coaching, and metrics that clearly define progress—shouldn’t be downplayed. Investing in ongoing training sessions for managers and end users, pushing for the constant refinement of analytics tools, and tracking tool usage with new metrics will ensure the greatest success.

OWNERSHIP AND OPERATIONS/MANAGEMENT

Ownership and Asset Operations are critical to the long-term viability of the City and its ability to provide critical services for its Citizens. As Program Manager, Xaqt will be responsible for working with the City to value the current assets and identify unique structures to monetize them. As part of this RFP process, the City may be presented with a multitude of options for different ownership and operating structures. Xaqt, with our select partners, may assist the City in evaluating these options and potentially others in order to create the Master Strategic Plan.

We anticipate that the proposed ownership and operating models will have a profound impact on the financing of such an ambitious plan. We will lead the efforts to qualify each option and present the City with a set of recommendations.

TANGIBLE WORK PRODUCTS

The following provides summary details of our approach for delivering the required tangible work products.

Financial Roadmap

As we are not prescribing or proposing a set approach at this phase of the project, Xaqt will work with you during the first year of the project to develop the financial roadmap. Once each initiative has a quantifiable business model, financing options can be vetted and finalized, at which time the financial roadmap will be completed.

Visioning Document and High-Level Roadmap

We believe the visioning document and the high-level roadmap are two distinct and complementary deliverables.  The visioning document should be ambitious but realistic in setting goals, and incorporate a complex set of inputs.  For example, the City Business Plan shares that streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure are important capital investment areas based on historical spend and citizen satisfaction.  How will the Smart City program and the enhanced technology infrastructure contemplated enhance core construction and improvement needs?  Likewise, in an important area such as public safety, do we expect data driven efforts to enhance safety through proactive, more efficient, or more timely response?  Does that mean we can do more with the existing staff with a technology driven model in the future?  Xaqt is prepared to incorporate data (use existing data and inputs such as the city plan and collective primary and secondary research data) and engage with city and private sector leaders to lay out a vision that balances competing priorities in the best interest of Kansas City.

The high-level roadmap is created in an iterative fashion fed by the vision as one primary input.  We believe in a pragmatic approach to execution, and as such, other inputs to the high-level roadmap will include budget realities, prioritization of higher return initiatives, maturity of technology options, and other considerations.  Additionally, some of Xaqt’s immediate suggestions include:

  • Asset Light – While the physical life span of deployed hardware such as sensors may be multiple decades, the reality is that technology is changing at a dramatic rate.  Therefore, our suggestion is to focus on the business outcome and the associated data needs.  The dependency on the intelligence of each of the assets that may require physical overhaul on a regular basis for updates is then reduced.  This also drives a data driven approach and focus dependent on cloud-based software solutions requiring very little hardware refresh.
  • Initiative Prioritization – There may be some practical realities that drive a sequence of projects.  For example, towers and 5G have significant financing implications and may need to be prioritized early.  Likewise, renegotiating energy tariffs while concurrently replacing lighting with latest technology is likely to take place early.  The Strategy & Planning working team along with the core PMO will be responsible for the creation of the visioning document and the high-level roadmap.

Integrated Data Analytics Platform

Xaqt’s integrated Data Analytics Platform provides the technology and data-sharing platforms for IoT and other Smart capabilities that are compliant with open systems standards and optimal for implementation in the City.

Plan for Development of Wireless Infrastructure

Xaqt will partner with the City to create a plan for development of wireless infrastructure, or other connectivity infrastructure to advance Kansas City’s Smart City objectives. Given the critical and complex nature of this component, we anticipate partnering with an organization such as... or another neutral host provider.

Additionally, Xaqt will leverage our deep relationship with Cisco Systems, Inc. and their partners in the design, development and deployment of said Wireless Infrastructure.

Metrics, KPIs, and Milestones

During the first year of the program, Xaqt will develop metrics, key performance indicators and milestones for overall strategy as well as for individual project work plans for implementation. Xaqt’s data-driven and asset-light approach to this program will ensure that we quickly identity opportunities for rapid returns on investment and properly guide the stages of implementation. Xaqt also deploys an agile development process as outlined in the Appendixes.

Security Framework

Xaqt will create and deploy a security framework to ensure safe development of Smart City solutions and the continued assessment of risk moving forward. This includes the creation of transparent policies around privacy and protection of sensitive information and protected data. Xaqt outlines our approach privacy throughout the proposal.

SPECIFIC INITIATIVES

A Smart City starts with Smart Planning, and below represents our unique and data-driven approach to each initiative. We believe that analysis should guide the strategy and plan development. We believe our approach can save the city millions of dollars in unnecessary investment while meeting the stated objectives, as well as create new revenue opportunities that ensure long term success of these initiatives.

SMART AND CONNECTED OUTDOOR LIGHTING

We expect that the Smart and Connected Lighting component of the Program will create significant benefits to the City, in the form of energy reduction that contributes to the City’s Sustainability goals, as well as expense savings and increased public safety. One of the first steps Xaqt will take is to create a Master Streetlight Plan. The plan will be a subset of the overall Smart City Plan and will need to take into consideration several critical elements as outlined below. We expect to work closely with the Department of Public works, Black and McDonald, and KCP&L in the development, execution and maintenance of the plan.

A precursor to the plan will be working with the City to establish a more favorable Tariff with KCP&L so that the energy savings from LED conversions can be realized in the form of monetary savings as well. While it is estimated that converting to LED can reduce the City’s energy consumption by 50%, it is still unclear whether or not that will translate into an equivalent savings in annual spend for the City. The realized savings from these negotiations will ultimately drive the business model, financing and budget available to apply to other initiatives in the program.

Once a clear business model is established, Xaqt will work to prioritize the locations and corridors for conversion and subsequent timing. We imagine that the Connected Outdoor Lighting Program will contribute to KPIs from other pillars as well, such as Public Safety and Connected Health. Some Cities have found that retrofitting streetlights to LED can help reduce certain types of crime as well as reduce pedestrian deaths at high accident intersections (please see Smart Intersections section for example analysis). There is any combination of objectives that can be set when creating this plan, therefore mapping the dependencies between pillars will be critical to overall program success. Xaqt comes prepared with a library of data-driven analysis of similar projects in other Cities, such as St. Louis, that can be leveraged when quantifying objectives, creating the plan, and capturing and measuring the results.

Another consideration for the plan will be the placement of sensors on streetlight poles. As example, if the Smart City Strategic Plan calls for video traffic sensors to be placed in the Connected Corridor, then streetlight conversion will need to coincide with the build out of the Corridor in order to save installation costs. Alternatively, the City may choose to adopt a Vision Zero Approach and replace lights at high risk intersections and corridors first (and potentially place high fidelity sensors there as well). At this stage, it is unclear if 5G small cell deployment will have an impact on the Master Streetlight Plan. Regardless, Xaqt will examine all elements as part of the Strategic Planning process during the first year of the Program.

Lastly, Xaqt will leverage our own expertise and that of our selected partners to establish the proper requirements for the connectivity and adaptive controllers. Technology options available to the City will also be dependent on the type of overall network architecture chosen during the planning phase. Requirements can vary drastically based on the connectivity backbone being deployed. Xaqt will take these interdependencies into account during the Master Planning Phase. Xaqt will codify these requirements to inform the vendor selection and the procurement process.

An example of where Xaqt can integrate and visualize multiple sets of data for analysis. In this case economic data on incomes is overlaid on streetlight locations to help determine which areas would be best to deploy LED lighting that would increase equity across Kansas City.

CONNECTED CORRIDOR EXPANSION

Xaqt has firsthand experience in building a connected corridor in Kansas City. When we were first introduced to the City, the Streetcar Corridor had already been built out and WiFi deployed with sensors installed but the data was going nowhere and was of little value to the City. The City contracted Xaqt to turn the raw data into insights the City and Citizens could use. The result of which is the public facing portal where citizens and visitors can quickly find a place to park along the corridor or see real time traffic conditions. Xaqt then built upon these data feeds and launched our MetroGraph APIs that now feed real-time data to mobile applications and connected vehicles.

While some benefits have been realized from this approach, the challenge, as we see it, is that it’s only 2.2 miles of road and is difficult to quantify the value and utility of this approach. In our experience with other Cities, there is benefit in strategically locating sensors and using the same investment amount to get to scale faster. This will ultimately be required before this project can make a meaningful impact or turn into a data stream that is monetizable or beneficial for the City. Through this lens, we question why the City is asking for 600 traffic sensors to be deployed along the Prospect Avenue. We anticipate this approach would result in the same nominal impact to the City as the existing deployment and at a cost that is likely to return little on the investment.

As example, and in contrast, San Diego chose to take a wider approach and deploy sensors at key locations throughout the City. They are less dense than the KC Streetcar but serve a wider set of use cases. Xaqt will leverage our experience from other cities and options to design a pragmatic approach to sensor deployment. This will also result in a data stream that is more likely to return on the investment.

San Diego Traffic Sensor Deployment, Kansas City Sensor Deployment - A comparison of Kansas City to San Diego

As a matter of discourse, Xaqt recommends separating the Traffic Sensor component of this initiative and combining it with the Smart Intersections pillar, so that we can partner to develop a holistic plan that benefits citizens and visitors throughout the City. Lastly, Xaqt believes in an asset-light approach to data collection and believes that, for certain use cases, datasets may already exist that can meet the stated goal. For example, we have the ability to treat buses as traffic sensors or use mobile device location data as a proxy.

We must first define the outcome and use cases the city would like to achieve, and then back into the right solution. This will drive the solution, the business model and financing.

Separately, we love the idea that City wishes to expand the public WiFi network along Prospect Max and recommend this remain as the core component to the Connected Corridor initiative. Learnings from Phase One of Smart Cities led us to the conclusion that multiple approaches, vendors and partners need to be evaluated in order to do it right. This will also be largely dependent upon what the ultimate strategy for 5G turns out to be. In our approach, Xaqt would lead the conversations with each interested party and work with the City to define the ultimate solution and financial model.

SMART PARKING INITIATIVE

We look forward to expanding our relationship with the Parking Department. Given the extend of integration already complete with our Parking Initiatives in the City, we have included Xaqt Smart Parking as an Appendix.
Additionally, Xaqt’s growing database of parking and mobility data will be invaluable in planning the next phase of deployment.

Xaqt’s parking analytics and insights are already available to the City today as part of our existing contract, and we are happy to conduct a demo at any time,

Professor Amin Kuhail, at UMKC has proposed having his student build a Smart Parking Recommender System using Xaqt’s MetroGraph APIs. Details are submitted as an Appendix. This project will be made available to the City independent of this RFP.

SMART INTERSECTIONS

With the Smart Intersections Initiative, the City will have the opportunity to collect forms of data not yet imagined. Some of these may include information from Connected Vehicles in the form of Basic Safety Messages (BSM) or other. These data will be invaluable in addressing public safety and building the transportation network of the future.

For the Smart Intersections program, Xaqt would again take a data-driven approach ensuring optimal design and return on investment for the City and investors. As a first step, we would establish the baseline for where the City is at today across the dimensions and metrics you would like to improve. We already have some of this data, and anticipate working with regional entities, such as the police department, MODOT and MARC to build out a detailed view of all intersections in the City.

The first question we ask should not be, where is there fiber? Rather, the questions should be in line with the City’s goals and business plan, such as: should this be tied to Vision Zero goals or a reduction of congestion through specific corridors, or sustainability in the form of air quality improvement, or something new altogether. Based on the objectives and goals, some intersections may be improved by a modest intervention such as improved street lighting, while other may require more infrastructure and investment such as Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I).

Too start, Xaqt ran advanced analytics on historical car accident data and built heatmaps to show which intersections have the highest accident count and alongside which intersections have the highest count of accidents where an injury occurred. Xaqt can use this analysis, and others, to make recommendations for which sensors to deploy and which intersections to deploy them at.

Choosing the correct intersection and the correct sensor to monitor specific problems determined at each intersection can provide us more data on how to make these intersections safer for drivers and ultimately measure the success of the deployment in percentage reduction of car accidents.

Xaqt has aggregated car accident data and has determined the top 20 intersections with the highest historical number of accidents from the years 2011 and 2016. Given that Bruce R Watkins Dr. is the highest incident corridor, we would anticipate integrating data that we already have from KCSCOUT and establish a framework to collaborate with MODOT to leverage the City’s investment to make these intersections safer.

Additionally, Xaqt has completed extensive analysis on travel patterns within the Metro area for Avis, so that they can properly plan their connected vehicle deployment. The combined analysis will be invaluable in the planning stages of the program to ensure that we are recommending the right technology for the right location to solve the right problem.

DATA-DRIVEN PUBLIC SAFETY

Kansas City is looking to increase the awareness and knowledge, as well as better facilitate actionable decisions-based data sourced from around the city pertaining to Public Safety.

We anticipate that the City will receive many proposals for Data-Driven Public Safety from multiple parties. Xaqt presents a way that they City may evaluate the proposals that make sense and integrate them into the unified data infrastructure for broader analysis. Xaqt has the unique ability to ingest, combine and aggregate data sources to easily and rapidly create insights and predictions due to our existing architecture structure.

Xaqt’s objective for Data-Driven Public Safety is to use data and analysis tools to inform policy making. Additionally, while KCPD operates as a distinct entity from the City, the opportunity exists to strengthen data-sharing and collaboration between them.

We are in the early stages today of working with City on analysis for Crime Forecasting as well as more effective placement of smoke detectors. Xaqt can continue this work as part of our existing contract.

We appreciate that there are many options available to the City to improve public safety, and that Xaqt will not be the sole provider of these solutions. We are committed to evaluating these options and making data-driven recommendations to the City.

With or experience in the City, we understand the complexities that come along with not having direct oversight of the Police Department. Our team is working to strengthen the data sharing and collaboration across this division.

Xaqt is evaluating historical KCFD responses and examining areas of the city with high cases, measuring response times, and breaking down responses and looking at trends over time. This analysis can provide the city with crucial knowledge of any equity problems or areas with poor response times.

SMART WATER ADVANCED METERING INFRASTRUCTURE (AMI)

We understand the City would like to extend out their existing Smart Water AMI systems. Intentionally, we are not prescribing a solution until we can work with the City to better define the outcomes and business drivers for AMI. While there can be significant benefit to the City with wide scale AMI deployment, we believe there are quick wins available today by using data and sensors to reduce system water loss and the use of machine learning to identify fraud.

As another example, Xaqt’s water usage monitoring platform allows us to track water usage, enable fraud detection, forecast water usage down to the property level. The insight above shows how Xaqt can track city performance. In 2015 Santa Monica released an Urban Water Management Plan. Following this release, we saw a reduction in summer month peaks for duplex/single family homes. Xaqt can track, for each type of property and down to the property level, how well a city’s water reduction plan is working and make recommendations on which types of properties and locations where further policy intervention may be needed to reach goals.

Xaqt can map and provide alerts to city officials when water usage becomes too high and can pinpoint properties with outsized water usage per square foot.

As with each program, once we identity the desired outcomes and business models, Xaqt will Program Manage the project. This would include, requirements gathering, data definitions, and vetting of potential vendors and partners to build, deploy and operate the end system.

CONNECTED HEALTH

Kansas City Missouri is looking for a solution which leverages multiple data sources related to public health including but not limited to - real-time air quality sensors, local public healthcare providers, school attendance to monitor and develop both real-time analytics and predictive algorithms. These algorithms and analytics will provide City Officials a new way to look into how Public Health problems can be approached and solved. The solution should provide an easy way for non-technical users to examine statistics and data visualizations, so decisions can be made faster, and less time can be spent researching.

Similar to Data-Driven Public Safety, we anticipate that the City will receive many proposals for Connected Health from multiple parties. Xaqt presents a way that the City may evaluate the proposals that make sense and integrate them into the unified data infrastructure for broader analysis. Some of these initiatives may include, partnering with Sickweather, increasing the capture of air quality data and creating data sharing agreements and exchanges with local health care partners.

Xaqt proposes, in conjunction with sensor providers, a unique solution to ingest, aggregate, and analyze data from not only real-time particulate mass sensors air quality sensors, but crime incident reports, 311 reports, EPA data, Census data on demographics of regions to analyze a multitude of public health events. Xaqt proposes to build a public health real-time monitoring dashboard to, monitor data sources and provide alerts to both city officials and in the form of a public facing portal on locations where predictive algorithms have indicated as problematic.

Long-term, Xaqt envisions a tool where predictive algorithms can deploy resources before public health outbreaks or problems occur. One instance is examining patterns of Particulate mass readings, along with a conjunction of data to predict days which PM is high and fire departments and paramedics be deployed to outdoor sporting events like children’s’ soccer fields where the likelihood of asthma attacks are high. We envision a future where sexually transmitted diseases are stopped from spreading due to anonymized location data and algorithms to predict disease spread.


INTEGRATED DATA AND ANALYTICS PLATFORM

Data and Analytics – Xaqt at the Core of the Integrated Analytics Platform

We believe data is the core to success in the Kansas City Smart City program.  All of the work streams come together to enable the collection and processing of data to enable decision making, automation, citizen services, smoother operations, and financial management, in addition to a variety of other benefits.  We are pleased to already work with Kansas City on many such initiatives.  The scope of our existing Kansas City-Xaqt partnership provides a significant and valuable jump-start in the overall data management lifecycle.  This includes expansion of data sources from new sensors, ingestion, cleansing, processing, presentation, reporting, and analytics.

We look forward to expanding upon the success we have achieved to date and hope to become the end to end data platform for Kansas City.  The scope of the existing City-Xaqt partnership provides a significant data jump-start on the Smart City Expansion Program.  As stated in the RFP, existing data sets include crime, economic indicators, tax, employment, weather, and city records.  The Xaqt Smart City Engage Platform is fully ready to rapidly expand the data sets to include sensor data across all sources contemplated in the RFP.  Paired with the approach we have described above, Xaqt is well equipped to support Kansas City across the entire program lifecycle – including strategy and planning, program and change management, integration, technology implementation, deployment, and on-going operations.

The City of Kansas City has informed the development of the platform from the beginning. We've collectively learned from the successes and failures of projects together. These learnings have been codified into the platform and serve as a strong basis on which to build and expand.

We understand that the work we currently do together is only a portion of the capabilities and scope required for success.  We will work with the functional and technical teams in Kansas City to comprehensively define the necessarily capability keeping future in mind.  Xaqt runs on state-of-the-art cloud architecture that will continue to evolve to meet the needs of Kansas City.  As projects move forward Xaqt will work closely with you to collect, integrate, process, and structure the data with the city’s goals front of mind.  

Xaqt currently provides reporting and visualization to several departments within Kansas City.  We anticipate dramatically improving the existing functionality as part of the broader program with additional self-service reporting capabilities, real time visualization, and automation through integration with artificial intelligence engines.  Having said that, Xaqt’s core is in data, and in this case as the data platform for Kansas City.  The beauty of modern architecture is the ability to modularize components.  Therefore, in the future city departments may opt to have a customized user interface of application for internal use or engage a digital agency for the citizen facing web portal. These types of future considerations are possible with the Xaqt data platform and underlying architecture.

Xaqt’s Integrated Data Analytics Platform is comprised of two functional components. MetroGraph handles the Data integration Layer as well as the Data Governance and Access Layer, where as Smart City Engage is the Data Analysis and Visualization Engine. The core of this platform provides the ability for quick analysis as well as scalable data processing for complex analytics. The resulting data and analysis are made available through Smart City Engage, as well as other applications which include a Public Facing Tool, a City Performance Tool, a City Policy Toolbox, and Infrastructure Condition Tool.

Xaqt’s MetroGraph and Smart City Engage together create an open, extensible data platform and set of applications (including Parking, and Mobility) that help cities innovate across policy and service delivery to achieve key equity, access and environmental outcomes.

Entirely cloud-based, the existing coupling to the latest Amazon Web Services Serverless solutions enables the platform to stay up to date on the latest architectures.  Due the modular nature of the Xaqt platform, rapid migration to other cloud solutions such as Azure can be accomplished with modest implementation effort.
As your technology partner, Xaqt’s job is to spot emerging technologies and deploy them in such a way that it advances the goals of our customers while abstracting unnecessary complexity. As we move into the future together, MetroGraph adapts with new technological advancements and thus enables more capabilities for our customers and partners, while taking advantage of the increasing capacity of the cloud.

Real-time data processing

In Kansas City, MO, MetroGraph processes a variety of data from different sources. Several types of city data have real-time uses and implications. Currently, Kansas City ingests real-time data from traffic and parking sensors along the Streetcar corridor.

Xaqt augments this data with real-time feeds from buses, KCScout, weather and the EPA.

These raw data are then turned into insights and outcomes in the form of traffic accident detection, transit car locations, or parking availability.

Extensibility, Customization and APIs

MetroGraph is designed to be extensible at every layer. From low-level data integration, import pipeline customizations, to building custom user interface, it has been designed as a fundamentally open platform. Data can be integrated via our standardized data models or by our REST and GraphQL APIs for dynamic modeling. Data can also be exported wholesale for use in other frameworks and tools.

Xaqt MetroGraph APIs are designed to be an easy way to access data in the underlying models, enabling third-party developers and researchers to create new applications and new ways to communicate directly with travelers. Partners can build user interfaces that enable people to interact smoothly with data, ask better questions, and make better decisions.

Existing APIs include: Parking, Traffic, Shared Mobility and GTFS Extended. These APIs also power the Avis Mobility Lab.

Scale

MetroGraph handles petabyte-scale data through a combination of scalable architecture and federated data storage. Our AWS S3 storage containers act as a data warehousing system to hold large datasets like raw sensor data, transactional data and geospatial data from connected vehicles. Our federated search server enables fast access to the data for ad hoc analysis or scheduled insights. In tandem, data is immediately available to users via searching and other enhanced querying helpers.

Xaqt will expose its Data Analysis Engine to the appropriate parties in City Hall, like the Office of Performance Management. The Data Analysis Engine allows data analysts and data scientists to run studies and build models within a single, unified platform. Engage provides a Python SDK and an HTTPs RESTful API for gathering data and running scalable python processes in the Xaqt Engage Cloud.  The results of these analyses can be directed back into the Data Integration Layer and power all downstream applications and collaboration.

Knowledge Management

All integrated data is stored in MetroGraph’s Knowledge Database. Every record that is written to the database represents an attribute about the city at a specific moment in time.

Cities can use this history to “go back in time” and see all related data for any specified timeframe, as well as the effects of that event.

Intelligent Workflow Automation

When issues can be prevented or addressed through intelligent Workflow automation, the city realizes faster response time and increased citizen satisfaction. For example, when a smart parking meter goes offline, Xaqt's algorithms can detect the event and automatically create a service order ticket. The result is reduced downtime that translates into more revenue for the City, and a reduction in 311 calls from citizens.

Smart City Engage

Smart City Engage was built from the ground-up to power Data Smart Cities. Whether you’re the Mayor, the Director of Public Works, or a first responder, Smart City Engage can be tailored to meet individual or group information needs. Engage makes it easy for users to quickly find and interact with the data they need. Insights and dashboards can be filtered on the fly and data is exported in one click.

Smart City Engage is the standard interface for the City’s user-focused tools, specifically the existing Public Facing Tool, City Performance Tool and City Policy Toolbox. The Engage web-based platform provides powerful visualization, sharing, and collaboration capabilities. Engage is composed of five main components: Insights, Dashboards, Policies, Reports Scheduling, and Sharing.

Policy Engine

The Engage Policy Engine allows application users to establish alerts or actions when certain data triggers are hit. Users can define metrics including missing data, dips, spikes, and complex scenarios that will trigger a defined policy. Policies could include alerting important people through email, text, phone call, or alerts insight the app, as well as actuate API calls empowering city-wide automation.

Insight Commons

In addition to our software, Xaqt has developed a growing library of prebuilt insights that are automatically generated for every city in the U.S. These insights are developed on public datasets, such as: Census, IRS tax returns (anonymized), Zillow’s Housing Research data, Education analysis from Stanford, and FCC Broadband datasets. These insights have proven valuable to cities in their analysis of economic mobility and digital equity. The insights as well as the underlying data are included as part of any customer deployment.

City Policy Toolbox- Xaqt has applied tour domain expertise into creating a platform designed specifically for Cities. As an example, Smart City Engage is the only production platform that can capture policy interventions from the City and analyze their efficacy.

Public Facing Tool – The openness and modularity of the platform allows for flexibility in designing end user tools. For the Public Facing Tool,  we see this as a combination of Xaqt for real time insights and mySidewalk for data storytelling.

City Performance Tool – Xaqt currently provides insights into City Performance and will extend this tool out as needed.

Infrastructure Condition Tool- We anticipate using a hybrid of Xaqt, existing City tools and others to be defined to meet this objective.

A final note on Data Ownership and Rights

Lastly, the City will not find a fiercer advocate for City Data Ownership and Rights than our team at Xaqt. We believe data generated or created as a result of City Investment belongs to the City and its Citizens and should be open. While there may be monetization opportunities, we believe in openness and transparency. These principles are detailed in throughout our response.

MILESTONES AND TIMELINES

As previously mentioned, we believe the first year of the program is the critical time frame to establish the master implementation plan across individual projects which concurrently selecting vendors and securing financing.  Additionally, while we believe 5G and Lighting are important initial initiatives, the exact sequence of projects should be finalized together as part of the program.  Therefore, dates indicated below are reflective of detail in year 1 and general model across the lifespan of the program.  We have also grouped key activities and milestones by quarter rather than presuming or forcing a date as we believe finalizing the plan is something that should be done together.

Within the first year, we anticipate city participation in all work streams of varying degrees.  Procurement and steering committee will be primary filled by city leads while other execution teams will be owned by Xaqt or sub-contractors, supplemented by city representatives. We look forward to discussing how to form the most effective team structure with you.

Beyond year 1, we anticipate adjustments to sequence and durations of each individual project as more is learned, and the master plan is iterated and reviewed with you.  The general principles are to move as quickly as possible but to stagger starting of initiatives to manage concurrence of activities that have dependencies such as size / scale of program management team, procurement activities required from Kansas City, and program risk.  We anticipate complete deployment to be complete by the end of year 4 with the majority of activities complete by the end of year 2.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

As a local and existing partner of the City, Xaqt has been involved with the public and citizens from the beginning. We have a history of engaging the local community through various initiatives, such as: workshops with Think Big Partners and Startland News, launching public facing portals and tutorial events with KC Digital Drive. Xaqt will expand these efforts and fold in other community partners as part of the strategic planning process.

Additionally, through a partnership with Insights.US, Marketplace.city can host and manage public engagement through around smart city topics on the Kansas City page. This allows Kansas City to ask specific questions about Smart City projects to Kansas City residents, have responses consolidated using their AI tools and provide residents feedback based on actions taken against their comments.

ALIGNMENT WITH IOT GUIDELINES

Xaqt’s program approach and architecture are fully compliant with the City’s IoT Guidelines. Xaqt is actively involved with the Global Smart Cities initiatives with NIST and regularly participate in the shaping of more robust data governance standards and practices.

DATA OWNERSHIP USE AND MANAGEMENT

The Data Ownership and Management requirements are addressed throughout our proposal and are summarized in Appendix: Data Ownership Use and Management for completeness.


WORKING WITH EXISTING SUPPLIERS

As an existing supplier to the City, Xaqt has developed strong relationships with other City suppliers, such as: Cisco, AWS, Sensity/Verizon, EMNet, Rhythm Engineering and mySidewalk. Additionally, we will work with other existing contractual suppliers as requested by the City and as needed to fulfill the obligations of the program.

TRAINING AND SKILLS TRANSFER

Xaqt addresses training and skills transfer as part of our Program and Change Management processes. While we strive to make our deliverables seamless to the end user, we place a strong focus on product adoption. To the extent possible, all training material is embedded in our products and online tutorials are available.

UNIQUE SERVICES AND MANAGEMENT TOOLS

As of July 31, 2018, there were 24 billion records and 2.1 terabytes of data for KCMO stored in Xaqt’s Data-lake. This represents 24 billion bits of existing knowledge for Kansas City and serves as a solid, and rapidly expanding foundation on which to build. By leveraging Xaqt as the core, that data and knowledge won’t need to be migrated to another platform.

Xaqt Expansion

For the KCMO, we propose to continue to leverage and build on the Smart City Engage platform coupled with our existing library of Smart City data connectors, and data open models.  Xaqt’s virtual infrastructure has been designed to provide optimum availability while ensuring customer security, privacy, and segregation.  

One of the key advantages of this approach is the key systems are already in place today.  This means not only can we leverage the work to date to accelerate efficient long-term progress, but we can leverage the data in place today to inform the design of the overall program during the Program Definition stage.  As we move forward into the next phase of KCMO’s Smart City Expansion, we expect the following areas to be of key focus.

Information Architecture - Realizing the Value of Data

Whether it’s introducing a new product into an existing market or an existing product into a new market, monetizing available information can mean the difference between success and failure. And it can open up new options when other kinds of investment vehicles may not be possible.

The long-term value of Smart Infrastructure with respect to business investments lies not in the features and functions of a proposed technology or solution, but in the value of the information that the technology or solution creates to drive new business models and profitability. Most information assets have significant potential utility well beyond the application that produces, captures, and/or initially consumes them. Even if their future uses and value are unknown, their potential ancillary value likely outweighs the cost of generating/collecting and managing it. Also keep in mind that information’s realized value may grow exponentially, via what’s known as the “network effect.” For example, KCATA

The justification and return on investment (ROI) models of any Smart City project should consider the derivative or alternative potential value of these information assets across an extended lifecycle. Managing and productizing information should be a constant and evolving conversation. Because information has derivative value along with diminishing carrying costs, Xaqt’s information architects make it their core focus to ensure new or upgraded solutions maximize the volume, variety, and veracity of information collected or generated.

The reasons to leverage data are quite varied. The following are a few drivers of data monetization:

  • Enhancing Citizen and Visitor Experience
  • Creating a supplemental revenue stream
  • Introducing a new City Services, such as Alexa Skills and Virtual Assistants
  • Enabling a competitive and entrepreneurial economy
  • Negotiating for favorable terms and conditions with partners and suppliers
  • Reducing maintenance costs, cost overruns, and delays
  • Identifying and reducing fraud and risk
  • Improving citizen well-being.

Xaqt has developed a set of new ideas, frameworks, evidence, and approaches adapted from the disciplines of information theory, accounting, asset management, property ownership and rights, measurement, innovation, and economics- to help cities transform their organizations. We provide the ability for businesses and public entities to monetize, manage, and measure information as an actual asset.

Xaqt will build a data supply chain in which information is used to: improve operational efficiencies, improve maintenance, improve production, improve quality, improve revenue, improve product development, and improve business relationships.

As we plan for the expanded Smart City implementation, Xaqt will evaluate every data element in the design, to determine the future benefits of being able to analyze or monetize that data, along with potential implications to privacy. Xaqt also looks at potential data elements that could be captured, to see what potential benefits might be sacrificed.

Data is not a fixed asset and therefore has no real limit on the value it can create. Whereas a Kiosk, by example, can only generate a set amount of advertisements that generate revenue, or a parking lot has a maximum sustainable yield, data and information do not. This principle beckons that data be intentionally and pragmatically managed.

We believe there is a better way to manage data that will benefit the City and its citizens. Rather than allude to how we would monetize data, we believe in transparency and will co-develop a common-sense plan for all parties involved that keeps the City in control of your data destiny.

Monetizing information does not mean selling or licensing it. The opportunities for indirectly monetizing information arguably are broader than those for monetizing it directly. Indirect methods of information monetization can include using data to reduce costs, improve productivity, reduce risks, develop new products or markets, and build and solidify relationships.

Although government organizations in the U.S. are prohibited from selling data outright due to the Freedom of Information Act, they can help others monetize it in ways that benefit the public.

Data Driven Departments

We envision a future where all of Kansas City’s departments are interacting with the City-wide data platform, decisions are being made, tracked, and monitored within the platform, citizens are provided appropriate and useful access to information, and any data observation can be easily turned into a collaborative and visual discussion amongst the relevant parties.

Data Partnerships and Prebuilt Intelligence

Xaqt has established relationships with private sector data providers and urban service providers. Existing relationships give us ready access to Mobile phone location data, Transit Authorities, and Census Bureau and IRS data.

Our team has worked with data and APIs from the major smart city platform and sensor providers (Cisco, GE/Current, Sensity/Verizon, AWS). We know what works and what doesn’t. When there are gaps in the data or bugs in their platform, we find our way through it. We’ve spent countless hours poring through vendor documentation and have had thousands of exchanges. Successful partner deployments include: Kansas City, MO for Cisco Kinetic and Verizon/Sensity, and San Diego for GE/Current’s CityIQ.

PLAN QUALITY ASSURANCE PLAN

We take a results-oriented and end-to-end view of quality assurance.  A sensor vendor may focus on hardware reliability and configuration / programming accuracy.  A wireless vendor will likely focus on capacity and coverage.  A network vendor may prioritize throughput and data integrity.  We envision the program management function to help stitch all of these moving parts together into an integrated testing approach.

Each initiative will require a focused end-to-end testing phase.  The definition and agreement of metrics, creation of the plan, the data requirements, scheduling, and managing inter-dependencies is a key focus of the program manager.  Each of the individual vendor teams will of course also have focused testing taking place.  The status of such testing will be reported on by Xaqt’s program management team.  The principle is to test early and test often.  This way downstream risk of re-work, particularly with cost hardware installations, is significantly reduced.

Proposal Part 7: Interrogatories Response

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Xaqt is obsessive about customer support. We embedded pervasive support throughout our products, which include: chat, an online help and knowledge base, email and phone. Additionally, a standard Service Level Agreement will be negotiated as part of the contract.

Customers are a key part of our product roadmap and enhancement process. In fact, The Cit of Kansas City, MO has been an integral part of our product development from the beginning. From predictive algorithm development through how to visualize insights, your feedback is incorporated into the product on an ongoing basis.

Recently, at the City Manager’s request, Xaqt worked with the CDO and Action Center team to prototype Virtual Assistant. This will begin testing in September.

Xaqt already collaborates with multiple entities in the region today, including: KCATA, MARC, KCSCOUT and other private sector partners. Xaqt will build upon this foundation and extend our engagement to citizens and other regional stakeholders.

DATA MIGRATION AND DATA USE

We provide data migration broken into two categories: real-time data integration from sensor and device installations and batch integrations from other datasets. Real-time data integrations are handled through a scalable AWS implementation that includes AWS IoT or socket subscription to real-time data, Lambda operations for data cleansing and transforming, and Kinesis for monitoring data flow and passing to our data storage solutions. For batch integrations, we work closely with the DBAs of existing databases to enable a scheduled transfer and monitor this system through an Apache Airflow installation.

We have an 8-step internal process for connecting new data, and are comfortable handling data from any source or datatype:
* Documentation Gathering: We work with the existing data owner(s) to gather any documentation and relevant knowledge about the dataset.
* Data Access: We obtain necessary data access to explore the dataset.
* Data Exploration and Quality Analysis: We run a set of operations to validate the quality of the data and our understanding of the fields. This includes field-by-field and row-by-row analysis of data formats, data values, missing data, duplication detection, and type or categorical predictions. The result of this stage should be a better understanding of how accurately the data matches the documentation and allows us to answer any question before integrating.
* Data Cleaning and Deduplication: Based on information gathered in the prior step, we establish any cleaning an deduplication rules for all data loads.
* Data Transformation and Organization: We transform the dataset to best match and link with other datasets in the data warehouse, with the goal of optimizing all future cross-dataset queries.
* Location Intelligence Engine: Any geographic dataset that is ingested will undergo a process that connects all geographic fields with relevant geographically-close data.
* Data Governance: We reconnect with the City representatives and the data owner(s) to ensure all data governance rules are in-place.
Scheduling and Monitoring: We establish scheduling and monitoring rules to continue data ingesting and alert the appropriate people if any changes are detected.

In the ideal situation, the data migration process takes around one-week for a full system integration and around 3-days for a single dataset. However, there are some important variables that can affect this. First, we need open and consistent communication with dataset owners because data integration requires heavy knowledge transfer. Second, poor quality data can expose us to more lengthy integration processes as we try to navigate and understand the dataset issues.

A typical migration process, following the steps outlined above, will encounter a few questions or issues with the source dataset, but will not significantly affect the timeline. Our timeline estimates allow and expect for a few back-and-forth questions with the dataset owner about quality questions or concerns. Additionally, data migration processes will need to be revisited if anything is detected in our monitoring process in the future. The most common reason for re-visiting an integration solution is that some change was made to the source dataset. Consequently, it is supremely helpful to be informed about any changes prior to implementation.

ARCHITECTURE

Xaqt implements several data validation techniques during each step of the ingestion, storage and analysis pipeline. Reference Appendix for Xaqt’s Data Quality Procedures. Our first step in the data ingestion process is to determine the ingestion schedule of real-time data based on use-cases. We then perform a variety of statistical tests to verify and validate the data from the source. Once the data is ingested, a copy of the raw data is kept for testing purposes. Once the data is in our database instance we repeat the statistical tests on the entire set of data, or, if too large, take a randomized sampling, including a presence check and duplication check, to ensure data is not missing or duplicated, we also take, median, mode, distributions, frequencies for each attribute of the data and compare the results from the server statistical tests to the tests of the raw data initially obtained to ensure accuracy and presence. Once these statistical tests prove that the data is indeed valid we can setup triggers and alerts during the streaming of single or batch records to alert us of any missing, invalid data or any brownouts that may occur in the future.

At Xaqt, we follow this software development life cycle for all application and API/SDK development. There is a small difference below if we are developing changes to an Application instead of an API/SDK. The length of the process depends on the size of the task, but we work to build agile sprints to quickly roll out upgrades and features. Our desired sprint-length is 2 weeks, but can vary slightly with larger tasks. Additionally, we will prioritize sprints by working closely with city stakeholders to determine the most important and valuable objectives.
1. Planning, Research, Strategy: This stage contains multiple components: requirements gathering, end user research, product road-mapping. We work to consider all current, necessary, and future product needs to make sure we’re solving the objective appropriately.
2. User Experience Specification: With the strategy decided, we work to design the best user experience. For application development, this includes wireframing and user-flow discussions. For API/SDK development, we design Swagger documents and SDK specifications to consider how an end user can best interact with our features.
3. Design (applications only): For application, we will take the wireframe and user-flow decisions and product high-fidelity designs.
4. Build: At this point we build the designed and specified product or product enhancements.
5. Test: With a combination of unit testing, integration testing, and regression testing to ensure we are comfortable rolling out new features.
6. QA: We have an internal process for having multiple people provide their stamp of assurance that the data ingested is organized and accurately displays what is in the source location.
7. Deployment: At this point, we make sure everything is turned on live and are in production.

SLA/AVAILABILITY

We have designed a software architecture to mitigate unintended disruption by building on scalable serverless architecture. This means our APIs and system processes are spread in multiple availability zones and ready for redundant failover. Listed below are the largest risks for disruption and availability:

Source data collection/generation systems become corrupted or go offline - much of the value of our platform depends on data generators on the edge. When those systems change, go offline, or encounter issues, our system will stay online but may not provide the expected value. To mitigate this, we establish alerting systems to monitor the behavior of all data ingestion and notify us of any issues. When issues occur, we immediately work with the appropriate vendors to discover a solution.
Software Bugs - As with any software platform, releasing bad code can cause issues. To mitigate this, we follow two procedures: First, we develop everything on serverless infrastructure. This compartmentalizes any server-crashing bug to a system that does not affect any other API needs, data streaming, etc. Secondly, we follow a rigid software development cycle with multiple stages of testing and quality assurance to find any system-disruption bugs in our system.

SECURITY, ACCESSIBILITY, DATA USE AND PRIVACY

Xaqt utilizes a risk-based approach to information security. The internal Security Committee works with business leaders to determine a reasonable and acceptable level of risk in support of the company’s mission, objectives and obligations. Levels of risk are determined by utilizing industry-recognized methods. Xaqt uses the following frameworks and standards: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), specifically the NIST Cyber Security Framework as applicable to Small and Midsized Businesses, Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls

Currently Xaqt has no PII data and has no plans to store PII data. Regarding data privacy we implement a data governance protocol where each user is granted only the necessary permissions by an administrator of the cities choosing.

Once data enters into the platform, it’s passed between services using internal routing and gateways within the VPN. Any data pulling into the platform from the outside uses encrypted protocols (https, for example), but depends on the pulling method. Once at rest, data can be encrypted if it’s necessary depending on datasets and sources.

All backup and replica sets will be encrypted with the same rules as the product at-rest data. If datasets are determined to need at-rest encryption, we will encrypt them.

Xaqt would continue to manage the data infrastructure. Our platform stores daily backups that can be restored into systems easily. We also prevent any modifications to existing records in our Data Lake without intense scrutiny and backup snapshots taken immediately prior. Any data and system level rollbacks are a manual process that our team can perform on pretty short notice, but we do not expose any automated solution to prevent unnecessary or unintentional rollbacks or changes to our “Truth” data.

Xaqt implements several data validation techniques during each step of the ingestion, storage and analysis pipeline. Reference Appendix for Xaqt’s Data Quality Procedures. Our first step in the data ingestion process is to determine the ingestion schedule of real-time data based on use-cases. We then perform a variety of statistical tests to verify and validate the data from the source. Once the data is ingested, a copy of the raw data is kept in an AWS s3 bucket for testing purposes. Once the data is in our Redshift instance we repeat the statistical tests on the entire set of data, or, if too large, take a randomized sampling, including a presence check and duplication check, to ensure data is not missing or duplicated, we also take, median, mode, distributions, frequencies for each attribute of the data and compare the results from the server statistical tests to the tests of the raw data initially obtained to ensure accuracy and presence. Once these statistical tests prove that the data is indeed valid we can setup triggers and alerts during the streaming of single or batch records to alert us of any missing, invalid data or any brownouts that may occur in the future.

The Engage Platform’s data ingestion process establishes data ingestion schedules separately depending on each dataset. Consequently, the source of changes may be different depending on each dataset. However, to ensure we maintain accurate data and do not lose important data, we maintain backups with Amazon Glacier, a cloud data-archiving tool designed for long-term storage. [Immutable version is stored in S3]

The platform does not collect any Personally Identifiable Information, Protected Health Information or any data currently considered protected user data.

Please reference Appendix for an explanation of Xaqt’s Monetization Strategy.

IDENTITY MANAGEMENT

Our platform is built to connect into Active Directory for authentication and role assignment. All users are assigned to one or more groups and assigned a role for each group. Groups identify which data users have access to. Role-based and column-based governance dictate what users can do within that environment. Our role assignments are listed below:
ReadWrite: These users can read and write information across the platform. However, to clarify, nobody can modify truth datasets from our data lake. We do have modification abilities, but they stand separate from our data lake. ReadWrite users can create dashboards, reports, insights, schedules, alerts, and more across the platform.
Group ReadWrite: A “Group ReadWrite” user has the same capabilities as a ReadWrite users, but can only perform those operations inside their group.
ReadOnly: These users can view all data their group has access to as well as create any changes for just themselves. This means they could create dashboards and insights for their own viewing, but cannot share them with anyone in the system.

Xaqt Engage implements group-based permissions by first assigning users to a selected group or groups and granting that group specific privileges on data access. This determines which insights, dashboards, and data that user and group is allowed to use. This problem addresses two issues. First this addresses data governance and maintains data security. Second this allows users to only view data that pertains to their group and workflow. This is important because Engage has Insights and dashboards for a wide range of users, limiting their view to only insights which they have interest streamlines their workflow and reduces clutter and confusion in the product. Engage differentiates individual access by allowing appropriate individuals to have a higher level of access than members of a group. Individuals can also belong to multiple groups, so they can access a wider range of data and insights. This way individuals of different levels in an organization can coexist in engage while having multiple layers of access to secure data and individualize product experience.

Xaqt Engage allows for a highly granular level of access control and allows Administrators to grant privileges down to specific attributes of data. This way each user can be partitioned in such a way where they can only work with attributes and specific data points that pertain to their needs and security clearance. Within this, users can be granted either ReadOnly, ReadWrite, Group-ReadWrite privileges for those specific sets of data they are allowed to access.

INTEGRATION AND EXTENSIBILITY

The Xaqt Engage Platform provides a Data Governance and Access Layer that powers dataset read operations through an HTTPS RESTful API as well as read, write, update, and delete operations for core Engage Services like Insights, Dashboards, the Policy Engine, or Report Scheduling. The API can expose all the operations that serve the Engage web application dashboard to enable the Data Platform to be integrated into other applications: web, mobile, or otherwise.
Additionally, Xaqt has an HTTPS API and a Python SDK for integration with both the Engage Data Integration Layer and Data Analysis Engine. These APIs allow authorized developers to create new datasets, monitor the statuses of datasets, and run analyses across our scalable Python processing engine. Results of these analyses can be stored as datasets in the platform through the same API and SDKs.

Xaqt Engage has two forms of help we offer users. First, we have a help desk site with walk through tutorials on every aspect of the Engage product. It offers help and FAQs for administrators, developers to entry level users on how to build insights, use features and access APIs. Engage continues to build these tutorials for each new feature we add to the product. This tutorial base can be found at https://xaqt.zendesk.com/hc/en-us. Second Xaqt has a live ticketing system built into the product so users who have questions can be put in touch with a live developer or product expert to answer any questions they may have about Engage immediately.

We expose two endpoints for API integration and extensibility. First, we provide upstream APIs for adding data to the data lake. Second, we expose APIs and related SDKs for interacting with data inside the Data Lake. These retrieval APIs can be used to pull data, run analytics, and then use the upstream APIs to store the generated datasets inside the lake.
Xaqt can provision access on a per user, per use case basis.

For the solution proposed, our platform, Xaqt Smart City Engage will allow non-technical users to be able to pick up the product and examine predictions and data visualizations with relative ease and no technical background other than the understanding of how to read basic data visualizations like bar graphs, line charts and maps. The use of our tools in the software are built so that non-technical users are able to understand the intuitive icons and general layout of the software with relative ease. The functions in our product which require assistance from IT personnel are the insight generation and filter building functions in the product. This has been built in such a way that the IT personnel only needs to understand basic SQL in order to pull data in to create a visualization for users. We prefer the users to send us the data to load into the platform due to security risk.

TESTING

Xaqt can provide access to the staging environment to the appropriate City staff. Our staging environment is an exact replica of the production environment with new features. We can establish a testing period where City staff can approve of changes before they enter production.

SOLUTION ADMINISTRATION

A member of Xaqt’s team can grant administrative privileges to whomever the city selects to be the administrators. We will work with Kansas City on the onboarding process and education of selected administrators on user control and data governance protocols built into Engage. These selected administrators within the city have the ability to grant access control and set permissions for users in Kansas City. Administrators are in charge of the on-boarding process for users in Engage. The Administrator can use Engage to send email invitations, and simultaneously grant access and permissions. Users, upon receiving an invitation email, can follow a series of prompts to make an account through Xaqt engage. Once the account is created and a user has created a login, the user can then access the product. Administrators can also use Engage to alter permissions or add/ remove users to groups at any time after the on-boarding process.

Appendix: Xaqt Current State platform and analytics for Kansas City, MO

Kansas City’s Phase one Smart City efforts included material investments in data analytics that have demonstrated many of the value propositions data analytics and platforms can have associated with a smart city.  However, it has also demonstrated opportunities for advancement and growth.

In phase one, Xaqt built a connected data lake for the City as a basis for data analytics. This continues to be an ongoing project where new data sources are being added regularly.  The technology foundation of the platform is based on the continuously evolving IOT tools within AWS and delivered as a fully hosted and managed Smart City focused application through Xaqt.  Through that system, data is ingested from multiple source systems, such as sensors and connected devices, and is then processed, analyzed and made available for visualizations and consumption via APIs.  Specifically:

  • Data is appended in real-time for geocoding and geospatial analysis
  • Real-time ingestion and historical archival of all IoT data
  • Integration and normalization of non-IoT datasets (i.e., 311, permitting, violations, licenses, etc.)
  • Open access by the City and other partners.
  • City can deploy their own predictive models into the data lake

These efforts have resulted in a number of advancements that have allowed KCMO to begin down the road of creating wide ranging Smart City impact and maturing its data driven decision making.  Specific examples include:

Open Access Portal

In February 2017, Mayor Sly James launched the Open Access Portal to provide citizens and visitors a real-time view into Traffic and Parking conditions in the Smart City Corridor. The portal leverages data flowing through Cisco Kinetic for Cities and is powered by Xaqt Smart City Engage. The portal also includes Digital Inclusion Mapping, which was awarded Map of the Month by Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Ash Center.  The portal enables data sharing with the public in an ad hoc way. By leveraging the digital and data infrastructure already in place, Kansas City can easily scale out the portal in the future. Anytime a new sensor is added, it will automatically display on the map.

Avis Mobility Lab

When Avis Rental Car and City of Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) announced their data sharing partnership in December 2017, both parties looked to Xaqt for the needed data infrastructure and to manage the required data governance. At launch, five-though (5,000) Connected Vehicles will connect to the Xaqt platform APIs to subscribe to real-time insights on parking, traffic and other transit related data. Avis will soon share data with Xaqt from their Connected Fleet. This data will be cleansed and normalized to meet the City’s data policies and then integrated directly into the data lake for use by the City and partners. With the infrastructure already in place to accommodate Avis, the City can leverage Xaqt’s MetroGraph platform to share data with other connected vehicles and mobile applications.

311 Analytics and Operational Insights

Xaqt has partnered with the 311 Call Center Manager and the Office of Performance Management to create and implement daily analysis and optimization insights on the 311-call data. The City was recently able to use these data-driven insights when evaluating a vendor’s performance with respect to their Contract for Solid Waste Removal.  Additionally, Xaqt is working with the 311 Call Center Manager and the Office of Performance Management to develop Departmental Level insights and dashboards that will be implemented in September and October of 2018.

Xaqt visualization being used by 311 Call Center Operations

Public Works Initiatives

Xaqt worked extensively with Public Works on the development of a Pothole Prediction model. After initial development and testing, it was determined that the model could not be operationalized as is and required additional effort; a common outcome in analytics efforts.  The Pothole Analysis was then adapted to be more focused on pothole trends and providing Public Works near real-time visibility into the street conditions and quality for planning and repair prioritization.

Xaqt has built tools to monitor and quantify how events such as road-work or accidents can affect traffic flow using sensors.

Parking

Xaqt has partnered with the Parking Operations team to integrate all parking inventory and data into the connected data lake. This data includes: a static inventory of all Municipal parking assets (on street/off street), Sensity sensors along the streetcar corridor, Parkmobile transaction data, and garage gates. This data and related analysis is available for internal analysis via Xaqt’s Smart City Engage, as well as external APIs through Xaqt’s MetroGraph platform.

Data Driven Policy Analysis

Xaqt combines data and analytics to provide objective evaluation of public policy regulations and interventions. For the City of Kansas City, MO, Xaqt analysis disproved that there is a strong correlation between violent crime and vacant or abandoned properties and analyzed the effect of policy interventions on crime in the Westport area. For the City if St. Louis, MO, Xaqt found that a recent upgrading of streetlights to LED had no measurable effect on crime rate.

New Initiatives

With the core platform now in place, new insights and applications are being developed and deployed in a continuous fashion. As new datasets are integrated, and more departments engaged, Xaqt’s data science team is accelerating the delivery of new analytics applications across the City.

Virtual Assistants

An initiative of the City Manager, Xaqt is working with a cross-functional team, including the Office of Performance Management, 311, I.T., and City Communications to scope, design, build and deploy the City’s first Alexa Skill and Virtual Assistant. This project is following an agile process for a projected launch in September 2018, with the goals of increasing citizen engagement and reducing call volume to the 311-call center. Reference Appendix for detailed scope of this new initiative.

Public Safety

In July 2018, Xaqt worked with the Office of Performance Management to prototype a set of analysis on the Fire Department’s Call Response Data. After presenting initial results to several stakeholders, the team is now moving forward with scoping a formal project with the Fire Department to use data and analytics to improve service delivery. A defined scope and objectives are now under development.

Data Model and API Development

We view each opportunity through the lens of openness and interoperability. When we solve a problem for one city, we want it to be accessible and repeatable for others. Collaboration is key to this mission.

When Avis expressed their interest in leveraging Smart City data feeds for their connected vehicles, both parties looked to the Xaqt team and platform. While city employees had a solid understanding of how they wanted to consume data internally, they lacked the context for how external parties would need to access the data, and therefore could not develop clear requirements or functionality. Xaqt’s Product Management team then led the product and process lifecycle that resulted in a successful launch and a new set of functionalities for the City. With the real-time data and baseline infrastructure already in place, Xaqt worked with the Chief Data Officers from both KMCO and San Diego, CA to scope, design, build and implement an open data model and set of APIs for parking, traffic and dockless bikeshare and e-scooter sharing. The data models are now open source and reside in the public domain, thus making it easy for any city to adopt or adapt for their own needs. This stands as another example of Kansas City leading the way in Smart Cities.

The data infrastructure and software engineering to develop and host the public facing APIs we’re funded by both Avis and Xaqt, resulting in a zero-cost solution to the City. Xaqt has made the data and APIs available to the City as part of the existing contract with no incremental fees and expects to recover the development and hosting expenses through commercial relationships for access to premium usage tiers, such as with Avis. Additionally, Avis finds value in providing their customers with an enhanced experience in Kansas City and is committed to future investments and expansion.

Xaqt believes this is a model that can be extended and repeated as more data becomes available as part of the Smart City expansion efforts, which could then subsidize and offset the cost of future data infrastructure and platform enhancements.

Data Exchange and Sharing

As part of their Mobility Lab in Kansas City, Avis has agreed to in principle to share data from their connected fleet with the City. Avis, The City of Kansas City, and Xaqt have agreed that Xaqt will act as the data intermediary and data exchange platform. Xaqt’s Program Management team is working with the Chief Data Officer of Kansas City to identify the desired data elements and required governance with respect to Missouri Sunshine Laws. Xaqt is also working with Avis to define what elements can be shared and ensure proper anonymization of the data. Ultimately, the parties expect that the Connected Fleet data will be transformed to mimic traffic and parking sensors and then integrated into the Connected Data Lake. Once complete, this will result in effectively 5,000 traffic and parking sensors for the City at no charge.

Xaqt believes this is also a model that can be extended and repeated as more private sector mobility providers wish to leverage Smart City data and are willing to share data back with the City.

Appendix 2: Data Ownership Use and Management

Data ownership

A critical component to expanding the amount of data available for city services is the ability to store public and private data about cities in a consistent, secure way. The MetroGraph platform provides infrastructure to facilitate this kind of storage and access without raising the same concerns of loss of control that existing data warehouses do.

Data providers, whether internal to the City or external partners, are able to publish or share relevant data in a secure and flexible way. Some data providers may store raw / unstructured data (e.g., sensor data) which can be used by other services for machine learning, while others may choose to only provide higher-level structured data directly relevant to city systems.

Importantly, publishing data to the MetroGraph platform doesn’t change the ownership of the underlying data - a data provider may store data that it owns in the platform and grant access (with or without licensing or other agreements) with the city, or with city services.

For example, the city might store data in the data platform and make it openly available, or restrict access to particular services or researchers, or to only its own services. In any case, the data owner always remains in control of its data.

Data Governance and Privacy

Smart cities coupled with a robust data platform create a unique opportunity to re-envision data-driven city management. Much of a city’s workings can be captured and managed in data, and this concentration of and access to data creates risk to personal privacy. The data infrastructure this is built on, from technology layers to policymaking, need to provide protections, transparency, and control to both the city and the people in it. Trust is built on clear and consistent policies for handling of personal information and tangible value returned to individuals and the community.

As a result, the Xaqt’s data platform is built to support a common set of principles, built collaboratively with cities, for the collection and use of data. These principles will help establish both policy and technical offerings to earn the public’s trust in return for citizen benefit.

Privacy and Security Controls

Privacy-protective capabilities are built into the platform's core architecture, which is designed to support precision data handling, multi-level security, and complete audit-ability. First, every property of every object integrated into the platform is tethered to its original data source, where access restrictions can be applied on a per-property basis (sometimes referred to as "sub-cell level security").

Then, users can be assigned a variety of access permissions that govern their ability to interact with this data. Finally, all user and administrator interaction with data is recorded in a tamper-proof audit log.

Xaqt will work with City and Partner stakeholders to design the data federation access rules. These rules will expose a Data Governance and Access Layer to provide appropriate access to all connected applications and users.

These security and administration features keep the City in control of your data and insights.

Users, depending on the level of dataset that they may access, are fully vetted before User IDs and Passwords are provided. MetroGraph supports granular access controls for all stored data. It can enforce restrictions on data to specific users, services and applications, or based on tiers who have access to particular data. This is enforced using a combination of the MetroGraph user management system and OAuth2 authentication for external apps and services.

MetroGraph uses machine learning to automatically discover, classify, and protect sensitive data. It can recognize sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property and provides alerts that give visibility into how this data is being accessed or moved. As a fully managed service, it continuously monitors data access activity for anomalies, and generates detailed alerts when it detects risk of unauthorized access or inadvertent data leaks.

Appendix: Principles for data collection, storage, and use

Smart cities coupled with a robust data platform create a unique opportunity to re-envision data-driven city management. Much of a city’s workings can be captured and managed in data, and this concentration of and access to data creates risk to personal privacy. The data infrastructure this is built on, from technology layers to policymaking, need to provide protections, transparency, and control to both the city and the people in it. Trust is built on clear and consistent policies for handling of personal information and tangible value returned to individuals and the community.

As a result, the Xaqt’s data platform is built to support a common set of principles, built collaboratively with cities, for the collection and use of data. These principles will help establish both policy and technical offerings to earn the public’s trust in return for citizen benefit.

To ensure clarity and consistency in how data is treated, the data platform and Xaqt products will provide mechanisms for cities and data providers to maintain the following principles:

  • Transparency - Maintain legible, transparent products and services for understanding data collection, storage and use.
  • Individual Control - Provide individuals with reasonable means of controlling the processing of their personal data.
  • Respect for Context - Use personal data in a manner consistent with the context in which it was collected and agreed upon at time of collection and provide a reasonable way for individuals to opt out or withdraw their consent.
  • Focused Collection and Responsible Use - Collect, retain, and use only personal data that is reasonable in light of context and delete, destroy, or de-identify that data within a reasonable time after fulfilling the purposes for which it was collected.
  • Security. Keep personal data secure from loss, compromise, alteration, unauthorized use, and disclosure. All data handled by the platform will be encrypted in transit and at rest.
  • Access and Accuracy. Provide individuals with reasonable access to and ability to correct their personal data.
  • Accountability. Conduct privacy assessments, adopt privacy-by-design processes, require developers and other recipients of personal data to adhere to these principles, and submit to appropriate regulatory oversight.

Xaqt is involved with industry-wide efforts including citizen groups, city leaders, sharing economy companies and smart city vendors to help codify a set of principles to govern the use of private data to improve public services.

Appendix: Xaqt’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Team

Over the course of our partnerships with cities, municipalities, and universities, Xaqt has assembled an elite team of privacy and policy experts from the best institutions. Our Privacy and Civil Liberties Team is a multi-disciplinary group of lawyers, philosophers, data scientists, and developers who look for technical and legal solutions to policy challenges. We deploy this team across every engagement with a mission of constantly improving our privacy-enhancing technologies and promoting their adoption by our customers and more broadly. These resources are embedded within the ethos of our organization and are not billed directly to a customer.

The Data Governance and Privacy team

Kansas City, MO was one of the first cities in the country to adopt Smart City Data Principles. We also recognize that guidelines were issued as part of the RFP. While considering the expansion of smart city infrastructure and new connected assets that collect data, we recommend the City formalize a data governance and privacy management team and set of processes. These should be built on both guiding principles and strong mechanisms for compliance management.

Xaqt is involved with industry-wide efforts including citizen groups, city leaders, sharing economy companies and smart city vendors to help codify a set of principles to govern the use of private data to improve public services. Creating a strong privacy policy that all vendors must adhere to for both data collection and data use will be paramount. This includes, what data a vendor collects during the course of business with the City but might not necessarily share with the City.

Appendix: Approach to Analytics and Application Delivery

To address the tactical approach for satisfying the requirements of this initiative, our work together begins with discussions focused on both the software Xaqt will develop and deploy, and the whole life cycle of the product (see lifecycle diagram below). The Xaqt team employs Agile processes during the development of our projects and products. Xaqt and our KCMO partners will collaborate to review the initial list of stories created in Phase 1 for this effort – features, capabilities, units of work–and evolve a vision for updating the back-end architecture needed to support connected experiences.

Xaqt’s project phases are: Discover, Build, Deployment and Calibrate.  We identify key personas and map the data to their workflows. We perform a variety of information architecture exercises to ensure the right data gets to the right place at the right time. In accordance with modern web technologies, the Xaqt team leverages forward thinking design paradigms to ensure a best-in-class user experience using colors, motion and a pragmatic approach to typography. We work in a very agile model, creating low and high-fidelity prototypes throughout the entire design process to help determine usability flaws and uncover opportunities for enhancement. We run in two-week sprints to remain continually engaged with our partners with measurable progress. We concurrently run User Discovery alongside our backend and platform analysis.

Discovery and Validated Learning Phase

Xaqt engages in a process of validated learning, where we test our collective hypothesis against data. While the learning process continues throughout the project lifecycle, the outcome from these sprints result in real time documentation detailing the initial product requirements and priorities.

We kick off by performing Gap Analysis on what User research the KCMO already has and what we need to generate some unique insights.

Phase Objectives are as follows:

  • Produce Discovery Package that contains the lifecycle information needed to drive product definition.
  • Collect customer sample data for our Data Curator
  • Create initial set of user stories and backlog

Figure 10.1.1-1:  Xaqt Development/Operations Lifecycle

Systems and Data Assessment

During the discovery phase, Xaqt performs a technical deep dive with the KCMO systems team and scope out the underlying integration requirements. We answer questions regarding data, underlying workflow and integration capabilities. The Xaqt team establishes partnerships with KCMO key vendors and internal IT department to ensure a tightly integrated system.

Build Phase

Xaqt’s deployment strategists coordinate data acquisition with KCMO, including identification of needed data fields, formats, access protocols, etc. The deployment team consults with Data Science as needed to ensure compatibility with ingestion process.

The goal during this stage is to solidify (with various stakeholders) the product roadmap and what needs to be done.  This information is used to guide the build/configure process. Phase Objectives are:

  • Ensure information has been gathered for successful product development
  • Understand KCMO data, mappings and ensure match with Xaqt's Data Science models.
  • Build the data ingestion to smoothly transition content data to Xaqt data stores

Key Deliverable—The key output from the Build Phase is to produce a solution that is ready for deployment.

A key component within the creation of the Product Review Package is to confirm customer alignment with the proposed solution.  This is the first of several change management activities intended to smooth the introduction of new technology into the KCMO system.  The Xaqt team conducts regular meetings with KCMO, ensuring alignment around the business problem to be solved and the potential impact of the Xaqt Solution.  Potential impacts may include changes in business process, new skills training, new roles, and even organizational changes.

The build iteration is the primary engineering/data science component of the Xaqt engagement.  During this phase, the product review, customer vision, and data mapping are anticipated to be complete. Completion of these components enables the Xaqt product/engineering team and the data science team to move as quickly as possible towards the end solution. The goal is to create working software every two weeks which ultimately translates into a deployable solution plan.  The goal in this segment is to configure any aspects of the solution necessary and build the infrastructure connectivity to move data.

Key deliverables are fully functional, deployable solutions.

Create Deployment Plan—The initial deployment plan is created during the Build Phase.  Planning includes the following sections:

  1. Managing Stakeholder Expectations—The Xaqt team begins the process of identifying relevant stakeholders and stakeholder groups including end users and managing expectations around the introduction of the new system. The impact of change in an organization should not be underestimated. Our team makes note of significant change activities that could affect the success of the Xaqt Solution:
  • Significant business process changes
  • New roles or user teams
  • Changes in staff levels for existing user teams
  1. Training—Training is customized for Tulsa
  2. Field Test or Pilot—The initial approach to the Field Test or Pilot is outlined at this time, based on the information available.  Planning for the field test takes into account the available data, the number of potential test sites and users involved, and the assets included in the test.
  3. Rollout—Similar to the approach for Field Test, the initial plans for the Rollout of the solution are made.

Additional topics that may need to be addressed as part of the deployment plan could include:

  • Existing Systems—When the Xaqt solution replaces an existing system, then additional complexity is introduced.  Xaqt works with Tulsa to determine if a one-time system cutover is desired, or if the Xaqt solution is provided in parallel with the existing system.
  • Client External Users—If KCMO has a requirement for external users to access the Xaqt Solution, additional training for these external users is planned.
  • Detailed Roll-Out Work Plan—We develop detailed work plan for the system rollout.
  • Post Deployment Debrief/Lessons Learned—Xaqt conducts Lessons Learned sessions to ensure continuous improvement for the Xaqt/KCMO Rollout.

Deployment Phase

The deployment plan developed in the Build Phase is implemented in the Deployment Phase.

Pilot Site and Field Testing

Xaqt works with the KCMO to select an appropriate pilot site and/or pilot user to conduct field-testing of the Xaqt Solution so that we can:

  • Plan a User Test that will effectively validate the Xaqt solution and surface any major gaps or defects
  • Set up Users in the System and provide training for them

The People-related activities in the Preparation phase include identifying the system users, especially those who are needed for the Field Test or Pilot.  Xaqt identifies all users and their system role, providing training or deployment as appropriate.

The specific form of the user test is planned at this time.  Specific business processes and scenarios requiring testing are identified, and relevant test data is prepared. Xaqt works with the KCMO teams to ensure that the Field Test / Pilot site is selected, and users are identified. Field Services collaborates with other Xaqt groups such as Field Operations, Data Science and Product to surface concerns and identify issues and needs.

Considerations for scoping the pilot/field test include:

  • Availability of data
  • Existing systems
  • Pilot Objectives and Success Criteria (e.g. business KPIs, User Adoption/Satisfaction)
  • Reporting Frequency during the Pilot
  • Engage Stakeholders

The Xaqt team works closely with KCMO to manage expectations.  This activity builds on the work started in the Discovery phase and extended into the Build Phase, ensuring identification and analysis are thorough. The stakeholder map developed during the Discovery Phase may be revised and extended to include additional KCMO system roles and users.

Alignment during the field test, the plan and the user involvement for field testing is critical. Xaqt ensures that KCMO staff who are also system users are involved in Build Phase activities. Xaqt collaborates with KCMO to ensure mutual agreement while scheduling training events and user testing activities.

Identify Training Needs

Xaqt has a training program in place that was originally built to support Phase 1 of the KCMO Smart City initiative. Our system has been customized to support KCMO’s requirements. Once the system users are identified, the training needs for each group of users is evaluated, and overall training needs are planned. The goal of training is to ensure that the KCMO employees are prepared to test the Xaqt solution, seamlessly integrating the Xaqt solution into production. The training provided to the users covers the solution functionality within the context of the new business processes.  Considerations for identifying training needs include:

  • User base, size, types of users
  • Timeline for preparing and delivering training
  • Collaborating with the user experience (UX) team
  • Discussions with actual customer users and trainers of users

Field Testing and Rollout

Prior to executing the field test, the customer users will be set up by Xaqt (or City of Kansas City if preferred) with named user accounts in the Xaqt solution.  Training for users participating in the Field Test is generally delivered separately from the training delivered during the system rollout. This training includes Instructor-led, traditional and hands on classroom training, videos and webinars.

User Testing occurs throughout the Build Phase and extends into the Deployment Phase.  The User Test is the point in time KCMO will fully exercise the solution in the context of the business process. The Xaqt role during User Testing is to support the test, ensure it happens and runs smoothly, and to gather feedback that may be needed to make changes to business processes or to the solution itself.

During the Rollout, Xaqt provisions all remaining users on the Xaqt Solution.  Planning for the rollout takes into consideration the following:

  • Total number of sites
  • Users and roles within each site
  • Communication of support procedures within each site
  • Training for all sites

For implementations affecting critical business functions, a rollout plan can also include mitigation activities if needed.

Gather User Feedback

Capturing feedback during the testing and rollout is essential to improving both the product and the rollout of the product. During the Build Phase can provide feedback directly to the Product Team as part of the Sprint Review process.  The Xaqt team will be present to help bridge the gap between initial customer Discovery activities/needs and the solution being developed.  We provide strategies to reconcile conflicting user feedback.

During the Deployment Phase, the Xaqt’s field services Team may receive feedback live in person, via email or phone call. The Field Operations team will also receive feedback about the solution.

Deliver User Training

Xaqt provides multiple scalable training approaches that can support the required number and locations of users.  Training needs are identified by:

  • User base, size, types of users
  • Timeline for preparing and delivering training
  • Collaborating with the UX team
  • Discussions with actual customer users and trainers of users
  • User and Quick Reference Guides

Manage Stakeholder Expectations

Xaqt’s field services team manages stakeholder expectations throughout Deployment. This begins in the Discovery Phase with those key stakeholders identified in the stakeholder map and continues through Build and into the Deployment Phase.  The stakeholder map is expanded in this phase to include users of the Xaqt Solution.

The focus on Process for the Deployment Phase is to ensure that the new business processes and changes support the Xaqt solution and maximize client benefits.  The Xaqt Team ensures that the process changes make sense in the context of KCMO business, and that KCMO can seamlessly enact those process changes while supporting the Xaqt solution. The Xaqt solution seeks to minimize disruption to both business process and existing KCMO technology solutions.

Xaqt Seamlessly Manages Change

As noted, Xaqt solutions are designed to seamlessly integrate with existing City technologies and business processes.  Helping KCMO personnel navigate the change is a critical part of the deployment phase.  The initial deployment plan drafted in the Build Phase may be extended to address any additional change impacts identified at the time of deployment such as:

  • Analyze Operations and Results / KPIs
  • Analyze ROI and efficacy metrics

Calibrate and Support Phase

Xaqt can provide support for the platform once live. We will ensure a smooth transition from development to operations by engaging the KCMO operations team throughout the earlier phases of the project.

Phase Objectives:

  • Ensure the relationship is transitioned to field operations
  • Provide field ops with the knowledge and tools to support the solution
  • Create an environment where issues are raised and addressed in a timely manner

Appendix: Software Development Life Cycle

At Xaqt, we follow this software development life cycle for all application and API/SDK development. There is a small difference below if we are developing an Application instead of an API/SDK.

  1. Planning, Research, Strategy: This stage contains multiple components: requirements gathering, end user research, product road mapping. We work to consider all current, necessary, and future product needs to make sure we’re solving the objective appropriately.
  2. User Experience Specification: With the strategy decided, we work to design the best user experience. For application development, this includes wireframing and user-flow discussions. For API/SDK development, we design Swagger documents and SDK specifications to consider how an end user can best interact with our features.
  3. Design (applications only): For application, we will take the wireframe and user-flow decisions and product high-fidelity designs.
  4. Build: At this point we build the designed and specified product or product enhancements.
  5. Test: With a combination of unit testing, integration testing, and regression testing to ensure we are comfortable rolling out new features.
  6. QA: We have an internal process for having multiple people provide their stamp of assurance that the data ingested is organized and accurately displays what is in the source location.
  7. Deployment: At this point, we make sure everything is turned on live and are in production.

Appendix: Data Ingestion Life Cycle

At Xaqt, we follow this data ingestion life cycle for all new datasets and APIs we ingest into the data warehouse.

  1. Planning, Research, Strategy: We work with the existing data owner(s) to gather any documentation and relevant knowledge about the dataset.
  2. Data Connectivity: We obtain necessary data access to explore the dataset.
  3. Data Exploration and Quality Analysis: We run a set of operations to validate the quality of the data and our understanding of the fields. This includes field-by-field and row-by-row analysis of data formats, data values, missing data, duplication detection, and type or categorical predictions. The result of this stage should be a better understanding of how accurately the data matches the documentation and allows us to answer any question before integrating. In particular with data coming from sensors, we analyze the records to validate the accuracy as much as possible and ensure the values are reasonable.
  4. Data Transformation and Organization: We transform the dataset to best match and link with other datasets in the data warehouse, with the goal of optimizing all future cross-dataset queries.
  5. Location Intelligence Engine: Any geographic dataset that is ingested will undergo a process that connects all geographic fields with relevant geographically-close data.
  6. Data Governance: We reconnect with the City representatives and the data owner(s) to ensure all data governance rules are in-place.
  7. Scheduling and Monitoring: We establish scheduling and monitoring rules to continue data ingesting and alert the appropriate people if any changes are detected.
  8. QA: We have an internal process for having multiple people provide their stamp of assurance that the data ingested is organized and accurately displays what is in the source location.
  9. Deployment: At this point, we make sure everything is turned on live and are in production.

Appendix: Xaqt Virtual Assistant and Alexa Skill

The Xaqt Virtual Assistant provides a new method for citizens to interact with city services. Our both interactions, built on Amazon Lex, can deliver an interface for citizens to chat with a bot through text or a chatbot like Facebook Messenger, talk with a bot on the phone, or command the both through Amazon Alexa. Outlined below, is an example walkthrough of a user reporting a missed trash pickup to 311.

After the citizen interacts with our both, we can log the record directly into the appropriate provider or provide a web interface for operators to handle the requests appropriately. The walkthrough below will provide a visual understand of the operator dashboard:

Step 1: Operators can view recent or historical reports

Step 2: Operators prevented from viewing the information if somebody else is reviewing the report. This prevents duplicated efforts.

Step 3: Operators can check out the report to review, and mark as an issue if something needs to be addressed. Marked issues will help improve the bot. Operators can also view or listen to the transcript of the conversation.

Appendix 12 – Authorized Responses and Representations

As an existing provider to the City, and being referenced in the RFP, Xaqt was approached by several companies to participate in their response.

Xaqt furthermore has set forth the below guidelines for each team that we agreed to join. Should the City receive a contradictory response, please reach out for clarification.

We are prepared to work with [Company] as the overall data management platform for the initiative and for Kansas City.  In this capacity, Xaqt will work with [Company] to support Kansas City across the entire program lifecycle – including strategy and planning, program and change management, integration, technology implementation, deployment, and on-going operations.

Scope of Services – Overview

The data platform, while clearly a critical component of the Smart City Expansion Program, is nevertheless one component of a complex transformation effort.  One of the early steps of joint planning between Kansas City and the [Company] -Xaqt teams is to establish clear roles, accountability, and governance across the participating parties. We anticipate some variation in ownership of specific components and where some work efforts are shared, particularly based on the functional scope area where each participant in the initiative has developed assets or capabilities enabling rapid and efficient deployment.  That said, in overall terms, the areas of ownership are expected to be as follows.  Engagement from the appropriate departments and technology teams from Kansas City are assumed in all areas.

With our role as the primary data platform for the program, Xaqt will provide end to end capabilities including data extraction from devices, ingestion into the Xaqt Smart City Engage Platform, data management, and visualization.  Furthermore, Xaqt Smart City Engage has built-in data governance, permissions access, and security.  Finally, Xaqt Smart City Engage is able to provide all of the structured data to feed data science tools and external reporting requirements making it a true as-a-service component in the Smart City Expansion Program.

In the context of the broader program efforts, we recognize that there is significant planning and unknowns that need to be clarified amongst parties and with Kansas City.  Therefore it is difficult to be specific about the role of Xaqt outside of the bounds of the core data platform and the associated integration.  

However, as indicated in the above chart, we anticipate working with [Company] and our partners during the selection process (and inclusive of Kansas City once awards are made) to refine the program plan including governance, approach, and specific ownership of activities by work stream and functional tower.  For example, in areas such as Parking, Xaqt through its existing relationships and prior development is able to provide a well defined nearly comprehensive capability down to existing integration into smart meters.  On the other hand, while we expect to be the platform for data from the other functional towers, our existing footprint suggest that tapping into existing work done amongst the partner companies may be advisable if proven solutions already exist.