One year into the company's connected cities initiative, Microsoft has lined up hundreds of partners to help modernize the world's growing metropolises.
has made big gains in the year since the connected communities program was launched, according to Microsoft.
In a July 15 statement, Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector, revealed that more than 200 partners have "signed on to Microsoft CityNext and are actively delivering more than 700 solutions worldwide—helping to build more modern, safer, healthier and educated cities."
CityNext leverages software, devices, big data and cloud services to provide municipalities with data-driven services to make cities more livable and sustainable places to put down roots.
CityNext bears some similarity to IBM's Smarter Cities initiative. In February, Big Blue announced that it was teaming up with AT&T
to develop urban planning and management solutions that capitalize on the growing Internet of things (IoT) ecosystem.
For their part, Microsoft and its CityNext partners have been making an effort to help cities achieve those aims without straining their budgets and resources, said Ipsen. Through a number of alliances that stretch across the globe, the company is providing its "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," she stated. "I call this 'New with Less.'"
CityNext arrives at a critical time for the world's cities. In short, the future is looking more urban-based.
Today, more than half the world's population lives in cities, and more than 70 percent will live in urban areas by 2050, Ipsen explained. "That's an additional 2.3 billion more people than live in cities today."
Newly minted city dwellers will place a big burden on already-strained local governments. Some of the challenges listed by Ipsen include "limited natural resources, aging citizens, outdated infrastructure, growing energy demands, privacy and security concerns, and rigorous regulatory requirements."
Today, Microsoft is reporting progress in helping cities pave the way for a more populous future.
Examples include Swan Island Networks
, a Portland, Ore.-based business intelligence specialist, whose product, TIES for Microsoft CityNext, provides cities like Denver with cloud-based dashboards that display alerts for real-time situational awareness in situations that impact public safety. The company announced a Disaster Response Edition of TIES, during Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference on July 15 in Washington D.C.
Civic leaders and citizens of Buenos Aires are enjoying improved visibility into the city's services. Argentina's capital now uses "a City Dashboard that consolidates data from multiple IT systems into a single interface to provide city decision-makers with insight into project progress and citizen needs," said Ipsen. The city's Windows-based City Phone features "custom-built apps that provide citizens with access to traffic, parking and public transit information."