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Alex Braszko Named Next Innovation Chief in Kansas City, Mo.

Alex Braszko will take the place of Bob Bennett as chief innovation officer in Kansas City, Mo. Just like Bennett, Braszko brings a military background to the role in Missouri's largest city.

The innovation team in Kansas City, Mo., will be led by another Army veteran. Alex Braszko, a former lieutenant colonel who specialized in understanding and analyzing big data, has been named the city’s new chief innovation officer.

Braszko replaces Bob Bennett, who now chairs the Cities Today Institute, an imprint of Cities Today magazine, which focuses on best practices for sustainable urban development. Bennett, who served as innovation chief in Kansas City since 2015, is also the principal and founder of B Squared Civic Solutions, a smart cities consulting firm. Bennett came to the role after a career in the U.S. Army. 

Braszko started in his new position about a week ago.

“I had the good fortune of shadowing with Bob, and going through the transition with him,” Braszko remarked.

Braszko credits his long background in working in innovation in various military settings as a foundation for leading the innovation department in Kansas City. Just prior to speaking with Government Technology, he met with the police and fire departments to discuss technology needs in public safety.

“It’s integrating tech and innovation into processes we have here at city hall, and that’s something I have a background with in the military,” Braszko said. “So it’s strategy, understanding the creation of strategy… And then actually, implantation of those strategies, at kind of the tactical level.”

Braszko has logged more than 21 years with the U.S. Army, working in areas like military intelligence and space operations. He moved into the Kansas City innovation role through the Veterans Local Government Fellowship Program, a four-month program designed to transition service members into new civilian jobs. The fellowship is now complete and Braszko is officially the city’s chief innovation officer.

Kansas City has become a national leader in the development of smart city applications. Bennett was known to frequently boast that downtown is “the smartest 54 blocks in the United States,” with its bevy of sensors, informational kiosks and other devices to collect and analyze data related to transportation, parking, weather and more. Those efforts are in the process of a wider expansion to other parts of the city. For his part, Braszko looks forward to continuing that work.

“You’ve kind of got the best of both worlds,” said Braszko. “There’s a lot of great things taking place within the city. Kansas City is a forward-thinking, cutting-edge environment, which is great.”

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.