How Microsoft is driving smart city innovations in New York

How Microsoft is driving smart city innovations in New York

The first ever Smart Cities NYC event has showcased how smart city initiatives are making an impact

Richard Humphreys |

In a new blog post, Laura Clayton McDonnell, general manager of the Enterprise & Partner Group for Microsoft’s New York Metro District, explained how Microsoft is driving many of the new initiatives. One of the most significant is the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Student Support Services’ Illumination Program, which is architecting some key innovations that leverage the Microsoft cloud, data warehousing and analytics, and artificial intelligence.

“The New York City Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation, which transports more than 600,000 students each day, recently rolled out a pilot GPS bus monitoring system on 500 school buses to increase efficiency, enhance safety for students, and better address parent and family inquiries and requests,” Clayton McDonnell says. “The system is built on Azure and uses Power BI to capture and illustrate real-time information on locations, traffic conditions, students, drivers and attendants entering, riding and exiting a particular bus, and vehicle performance indicators. It monitors day-to-day diagnostics and also identifies which students get on and off the bus at certain times and at certain places so it can improve its routes and increase student safety.”

Other notable initiatives that Microsoft is working on include a partnership with DataKind on the Vision Zero Labs Project. This has seen the development of valuable analytical models and tools to help the cities of New York, New Orleans and Seattle further their work to increase road safety. “Vision Zero cities aim to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to zero, and the more than a year-long Labs project was the first and largest multicity, data-driven collaboration of its kind supporting Vision Zero efforts within the US,” Clayton McDonnell says.

Hackensack University Medical Center, meanwhile, was among the first to use Skype for Business to connect parents with babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), providing a simple, secure and cost-effective way for families to bond when they cannot be together physically.

New York City is also embracing digital transformation to deliver better services, reduce costs and increase impact.

“Over 200 languages are spoken in New York City and 49% of New York families speak languages other than English at home,” Clayton McDonnell explains. “Having recently tested and proven that Microsoft Translator can handle many translation needs at little to no cost (as compared to US$4 per minute for call-centre translators), the city is now exploring how this technology and Surface devices could manage these conversations more effectively and efficiently. Translator also helps break the language barrier for schoolchildren learning English as a second language.”

These are just a few examples of how Microsoft's smart-city solutions are making New York an even smarter, more vibrant place to live and work. Find out more here


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