REDMOND, Wash., July 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 diverse Microsoft 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. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) "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 infrastructureCityNext 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
Public safety and justice
Tourism, recreation and culture
Health and social services
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 businessesCitizens 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.