Microsoft looks at the digital infrastructure that allows cities to prosper
As the global population continues to grow, the UN predicts that a further 2bn more of us will be living in cities by 2030. This of course presents challenges for developing physical infrastructure, as well as for the digital and virtual environments of the very places we live and work.
Given the huge variation in existing infrastructure, geographic location, surrounding topography, and population demographics, its hard to tackle this issue from a one size fits all mind set. What works for brand new cities being built quite literally from the ground up in Asia might not necessarily be compatible with redevelopment work happening in any given London borough, nor will that approach be as affective if it were adopted in say, the North of England.
Microsoft CityNext is a partner-led initiative that empowers cities to be more sustainable, prosperous, and economically competitive. Cities can tap into the solution portfolios of Microsoft and our partners and innovate at their own pace, deploying real-time solutions that can interoperate with and improve upon existing IT investments. These transform their operations and infrastructures; engage citizens and businesses; and accelerate their economic development and environmental sustainability.
In the video below, Microsoft’s Ellen Wilson touches upon three different ways in which the CityNext approach is seeing local and regional authorities empowering the individuals that make up communities to better access and utilise services that are of a higher standard and efficiency than ever before.
Cities Unlocked is an initiative that allows visually impaired people the freedom to move beyond the constraints of their immediate environment, and to make use of all that their city has to offer. An audio headset linked to a smartphone app informs the wearer of nearby amenities, whether that be a local coffee shop, or the fact that they are approaching the bus stop where they need to alight. Given the waiting lists for guide dogs, making this sort of personal assistance available through technology will empower many more people to live their lives with far less restraint than they currently may do.
Another example of how a Smart City can improve the way it operates across a range of areas can be found in Glasgow. Through the power of the Microsoft Cloud, data from a number of sources is securely stored and made publicly available, opening up a whole wealth of possibilities for public and private organisations to build solutions, services and apps to better serve their customers and local residents.
Find out more about how local government can benefit from technology here.
Finally, we hear about Kent County Council's initiative around digital healthcare. We have already touched upon the needs of an ageing population, and with 37% of internet users in the UK aged over 75, there is a huge opportunity to use technology to enhance the way healthcare is delivered. Empowering patients to take control of their digital health records and continually add their own data through mobile apps and technology not only improves the accuracy of information, but can negate the need for many of the more routine trips to see their GP or carer.
Find out more about digital healthcare here.
So how does a city start their journey towards becoming a Smart City? Having the right technological building blocks in place will allow cities and regions to develop at their own pace. By building on the Microsoft Cloud, local and regional authorities can move forward in the confidence that any recent or current investments made in digital infrastructure will still be interoperable in years to come, and can form part of a lasting solution benefiting all.
Click here to learn more about CityNext, and for further examples of this principle in action