A little over a year ago we launched CityNext, Microsoft’s people-focused future cities initiative, here in the UK. Since then we have seen tremendous success in helping local authorities up and down the country make their communities more liveable and sustainable places in which to live.
CityNext supports a people-centric approach to tackling the growing challenges of making our cities, towns and regions more educated, modern, safer and healthier. It focuses on transforming the work of government employees, supporting better engagement of citizens, and helping to accelerate innovation for local businesses and skills to help develop a ‘place’ as a whole – and we are already seeing impressive results in places such as Manchester, Glasgow and Norfolk.
What’s unique about CityNext is that while it builds on existing investments, it doesn’t try to boil the ocean. Many government agencies around the UK are just not ready for a fully integrated, cross-agency collaborative service delivery model, but with CityNext they can deliver real impact for individual services, while having a roadmap for the future.
CityNext is designed to address the traditional government functions (council administration, health, education, public safety) while also encompassing transportation, power and utilities, buildings and infrastructure, and tourism and culture. Microsoft has the breadth of technology and the existing footprint across all of these areas to act as the perfect platform to bring services together.
Microsoft developed CityNext to help government agencies to leverage the existing Microsoft software and services that most such organisations already have, and to then utilise them with local SME partners to deliver real impact to both their citizens and the local economy.
In the year since launch 80 Microsoft partners have registered with the program delivering over 300 unique solutions to meet future city needs today. I’ve had the privilege of working with many of these partners in the past year and seen the impact they can have on their communities. Shaping Cloud is a great example of a small Manchester based company who built an application called “SmartAir” which acts as a City Dashboard and Open Data solution for Manchester City Council, taking an “Internet of Things” approach and collating sensor data on emissions from across the city. This helps citizens better understand the environment they live in.
In every conversation I have with local authority leaders, the need to do both more with less is of pressing concern. I believe that technology has the transformational power to meet these challenges, and that CityNext will both underpin that transformation and open up new opportunities for cities and businesses alike. In short, it has been an exciting first year for CityNext in the UK and the momentum is building – and I look forward to sharing future success stories with you.
Author: Michael Wignall, Microsoft
Date: 18th March 2015