Hot off the press: Microsoft CityNext, coming to a city near you

At the Worldwide Partner Conference today, Microsoft Corp. announced CityNext, a global initiative empowering cities, businesses and citizens to re-imagine their futures and cultivate vibrant communities. Cities are centers of industrial, economic and entrepreneurial activity that fuel the rest of the world’s success. But cities increasingly encounter compelling forces, such as rapid urbanization, modernization mandates, and economic austerity pressures. Microsoft CityNext offers cities a vast and diverseMicrosoft Partner Network of more than 430,000 technology experts across the globe to innovate today and create a better tomorrow. Leveraging a broad portfolio of familiar and security-enhanced consumer to business software, devices and services and Microsoft’s history of successful education and social programs, CityNext is a collective effort that enables cities and their people to accomplish what’s next.

“Cities play a vital role in our lives — both now and in the future. Microsoft’s CityNext initiative puts people first and builds on this new era of collaborative technology to engage citizens, business and government leaders in new ways,” said Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. “Working with our vast Microsoft Partner Network, we can scale solutions and services to do ‘New with Less,’ enabling cities to better compete in the global marketplace, drive citizen engagement, and foster economic, social and environmental sustainability.”

Transforming operations and infrastructure

CityNext helps leaders make the most of their existing investments to find new ways to overcome challenges and reach their goals. With the new era of innovation, cities can enable new capabilities using flexible cloud services, empower city employees with enterprise-grade devices and apps, and innovate on their terms with modern solutions and big data platforms. This innovation can allow critical information to flow seamlessly between municipal departments and among government, businesses and citizens, driving efficiencies that can let cities put more resources back into the community.

CityNext brings together an ecosystem of partner solutions, devices and services that can connect and transform a variety of city functions, including the following:

  • Energy and water

  • Buildings, planning and infrastructure

  • Transportation

  • Public safety and justice

  • Tourism, recreation and culture

  • Education

  • Health and social services

Government administration CityNext customer Barcelona, Spain — long recognized as a digital innovator — has successfully harnessed cloud, data and apps to enhance administrative operations, interact with citizens and make information transparent. For example, Microsoft and CityNext partner BISmart worked with the Barcelona City Council to launch  OpenData BCN , an initiative to make data accessible to the public. Using the Windows Azure cloud, the OpenData BCN platform aggregates myriad facts about the city — such as population density and total unemployment — into a central hub with enhanced security. Citizens then can download the  bigov Better City Indicators app  from the Windows Store and monitor fluctuations in real time.

Barcelonans now have access to information to make decisions on topics such as where to start a business and where to settle down with their families. “We’ve been working with Microsoft for many years and have witnessed tremendous innovation across government, enterprise and citizen services through cloud technology and devices. Yet, even more can be done to engage Barcelonans and enhance citizens’ experiences,” said Xavier Trias, mayor of Barcelona. “We will continue to collaborate closely with Microsoft and leverage cutting-edge technology, services and programs that will make Barcelona a better place to live, work, visit and thrive.

Engaging citizens and businesses

Citizens and businesses expect access to and interaction with city governments through apps and the devices of their choice — anytime, anywhere. With Microsoft’s software, device and services platform, cities can deliver personalized services and apps with a people-centric approach, enable real-time dialogue via social media, and spur app development and economic growth with open data initiatives, resulting in better-served and engaged constituents. Microsoft CityNext partner Socrata Inc., a cloud software company leading the shift to data-driven government, is working with Microsoft to bring open data technologies to cities worldwide on the Windows Azure cloud platform. For example, Socrata offers governments customizable dashboards. Citizens can access their cities’ dashboards through mobile devices or the Internet and monitor how their leaders are performing in areas such as education, healthcare and job creation. City leaders can engage with citizens in real time, incorporate public demands into their decision-making processes and ensure that they respond to their communities’ most pressing needs. In turn, governments can bring data and citizen feedback into every decision, fostering greater transparency and community participation. “The forward-looking CityNext initiative addresses a once-in-a-generation global shift currently taking place in government: opening up government data and using it to enhance citizen services,” said Kevin Merritt, CEO and founder at Socrata. “Through simple, familiar apps and devices, governments can now engage everyone, everywhere. We are already seeing incredible progress and, in partnership with Microsoft, will enable global leaders to make sound decisions, drive efficiencies and help them meet citizen demands for ubiquitous access to information.”

Accelerating innovation and opportunity

Cities will not only realize full transformation through technology but also through nurturing the creativity of their most important resource — human capital. Microsoft and partners offer a variety of skills-based programs that educate students and teachers, foster business development, and empower citizens to join a competitive workforce. Around the world, these programs have helped millions of city residents cultivate a brighter future for themselves and their cities. For example, Microsoft programsYouthSpark,  BizSpark  and IT Academy encourage youth to join a growing workforce, support entrepreneurs’ bold ideas and create skilled workers that help cities compete in the global marketplace.

Visionary cities

Cities are already on their journey toward modernizing today. In fact, several visionary cities have stepped forward to embark with Microsoft and CityNext partners on this journey to identify and create what is next for their communities. Led by motivated, forward-looking leaders, these cities are taking an important step to better serve citizens and realize the potential of tomorrow through cross-functional collaboration that increases efficiencies, reduces costs and fosters a more sustainable environment.

  • Auckland, New Zealand

  • Barcelona, Spain

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Hainan Province, People’s Republic of China

  • Hamburg, Germany

  • Manchester, England

  • Moscow, Russia

  • Philadelphia, United States of America

  • Zhengzhou, People’s Republic of China

“Today’s cities know they must tackle urban challenges through coordinated and focused investments that enable collaboration across departments and agencies, leverage existing assets, engage citizens and stakeholders, and tackle long-standing problems,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, director of the Smart Cities Strategies program at IDC. “According to IDC’s Smart City Maturity Model, many cities are now in the first stages of implementing smart technology solutions as part of a 10- to 15-year path to realizing full transformation potential. The result of ‘smart city’ initiatives will ultimately enable cities to attract businesses and citizens to build more vibrant city landscapes and competitive economies.”

More information about CityNext is available at http://www.microsoft.com/citynext/