Microsoft reflects on successful first year of CityNext initiative

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 29 July 2014
Microsoft reflects on successful first year of CityNext initiative

Microsoft’s CityNext initiative is continuing to see positive momentum and growth, a year on from its launch.

More than 200 Microsoft partners have signed on to CityNext and are delivering more than 700 solutions worldwide. These solutions are helping to improve health, safety and education in cities across the globe.

“In the last year alone, through a variety of high-profile events with city leaders, we established key alliances with cities across every continent – providing our partners with innovative solutions to help customers not only do more with less, but also to come up with new ways to transform using less resources,” explained Microsoft’s Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president, Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector, in a blog post. “I call this ‘New with Less’.”

The recent Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington DC marked a year since the initiative’s launch, with Ipsen describing WPC 2013 as a very special event as it was here she announced the launch of Microsoft CityNext. 

The initiative combines two decades of Microsoft experience of working with cities through its expert partner network to create new ways for city leaders to face current challenges and modernise for the next generation.

“As more and more people move to cities to build better lives, today’s mayors and city officials face tremendous challenges,” said Ipsen. “For the first time in history, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, nearly 70% of the global population will live in cities. That’s an additional 2.3 billion more people than live in cities today. As cities experience this growing migration, they are also confronting budget cuts, limited natural resources, aging citizens, outdated infrastructure, growing energy demands, privacy and security concerns and rigorous regulatory requirements.”

A wide range of partners are turning to Microsoft to leverage cloud, mobile, social and big data to deploy solution that engage with citizens. 

“By helping students achieve more through rich learning experiences; giving isolated populations access to government services; providing the elderly with healthcare from the comfort of their own homes; getting commuters home sooner; and community safety, partners are helping cities use technology to create sustainable economic futures,” said Ipsen. “They are also finding success in scaling their solutions to meet the needs of cities across the world – expanding their offerings and driving real impact outside their communities.”

One partner helping bring a range of benefits to citizens through the CityNext initiative is Swan Island Networks, which has been working in cities such as Denver, US, to offer TIES for Microsoft CityNext, described by Ipsen as ‘a dashboard based on the Microsoft Azure cloud that helps city officials maintain better situational awareness in high-stakes environments’. 

At this year’s WPC, Swan Island Networks announced a new Disaster Response Edition of its TIES for Microsoft CityNext product, which helps government organisations and NGOs globally prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies.

WPC 2014 also saw ICONICS announced as Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year. 

Of Iconics, Ipsen said: “The company is offering cities from Rome to Beijing a unique platform that provides a connected foundation for cities to build on, utilising solutions and apps across core city functional solution areas and scenarios including building automation, energy management and sustainability. Using these solutions, cities are able to address challenges, spur economic growth and transform.”

Buenos Aires is a notable example of a city that is working with Microsoft and partners such as Hexacta and Kwan to leverage technology to help prepare students for the world of work, improve transportation and safety services, and invest in local developers to boost the economy. 

The city is using a City Dashboard, which consolidates data from numerous IT systems to give decision makers insight into projects and the needs of citizens. Other initiatives being used in the city include the Microsoft YouthSpark programme, which provides young people with job training and advice, and The Microsoft BizSpark programme, which helps new IT businesses access the necessary tools to be successful. 

“On the one-year anniversary of CityNext, Microsoft and our partners are proud of our achievements, excited by the momentum and energised by the opportunities to build on our success,” concluded Ipsen. “If all this can happen in just one year, imagine what we can achieve together in the next 50.”

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