Everything’s up to date in KC (especially for Rick Usher)

Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri and next door Kansas City, Kansas, were the nation's first Google Fiber deployments in 2012, ushering an era of smart city tech that was partly overseen by Rick Usher, who has now moved from city administration to his own consultancy. (Getty Images)

After 36 years working in city administration roles for Kansas City, Missouri, Rick Usher recently became a consultant in entrepreneurship and local government policy, then quickly hit it off with at least one top-drawer organization based in the Midwest.

He calls his new gig the Usher Garage LLC, picking up themes of garage tech entrepreneurship crossed with a successful car repair business formerly run by his family. (Reachable on LinkedIn)

His background includes work with the original Google Fiber back in 2011 and more recently with ride-hailing companies and e-scooter providers. Those insights have prodded him to begin developing a playbook for how cities and private tech companies can work together efficiently.

One focus area is helping address the digital divide and fostering work of tech-related entrepreneurs.

Despite concerns that the smart city tech movement stalled in recent years, Usher said he would grade cities and private firms high for their work.  “I think cities are doing really well,” he said in a video interview (below). “In fact, if you look back 10 or 15 years…the smart city movement has taken off across the country. Cities are embracing technologies in interesting ways.”

Editor’s note: Usher spoke in a video interview with Fierce Electronics as part of Sensors Converge on September 21. Other Sensors Converge sessions can be viewed online by registering for free.