Microsoft helps launch new urban infrastructure initiative

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 24 March 2015
Microsoft helps launch new urban infrastructure initiative

Microsoft is helping launch a new initiative that brings together companies, research institutions, civic organisations and the government in the US city of Chicago, with the aim of developing innovation within urban infrastructure.

The CityWorks initiative will see smart and sustainable solutions that have been developed by Microsoft tested in Chicago, with a view to making improvements to cities around the world.

Emerging technical capabilities in areas such as cloud computing, data analytics, mobile and the internet of things are helping cities to identify and react to issues, and predict potential challenges going forward.

“Through Microsoft CityNext, we are working with partners around the world to use these technologies to enable governments and businesses to understand and manage resource limitations, while still driving economic growth,” said Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president, Technology and Civic Engagement, Microsoft. “We’ve also recently announced the Azure IoT Suite, which empowers organisations of all sizes to capture, integrate and analyse diverse and voluminous data to produce usable information for decision-making and automated operations.”

Factors such as transportation, energy and water systems form vital parts of a city’s infrastructure. By combining new ideas in areas such as infrastructure design, materials and management, as well as enhanced computing and data analysis possibilities, city officials can evaluate how the existing urban infrastructure is being used, and how it can be improved.

“Chicago is particularly suited to the development and validation of innovative ideas in this space, due to the commitment of local government, business and research leaders to urban tech experimentation – exploring how technology can help make the city a safe and rewarding place for residents to live, work, learn and innovate,” said Lewin. “Chicago is composed of neighbourhoods that vary across many of the systems described above. That variability contributes to it being an ideal test bed for how new innovations can impact different environments and communities and be adopted into existing economic and social systems.”

CityWorks is the brainchild of UI LABS, a Chicago-based research and commercialisation collaborative, and Lewin said that Microsoft believes ‘deeply in the UI LABS model of public-private partnerships’.

The initiative presents the opportunity to bring together multiple organisations and develop sustainable partnerships that focus on community priorities, the policy environment and technological innovation.

“We look forward to working with all of the CityWorks partners and applying Microsoft expertise in leveraging and integrating technology, data and information to make urban areas stronger, safer, healthier and more resilient,” added Lewin. “The ultimate outcome will be taking creative new approaches developed here and deploying them at scale in entire cities across the globe.”

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