Microsoft is getting in on the Smart Cities movement with their new initiative CityNext. CityNext was launched today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The project is global initiative supporting city leaders around the world to create sustainable, economically competitive cities. CityNext leverages Microsoft’s Partner Network of more than 430,000 partners worldwide to deliver technology and programs in every city in the world.
Microsoft also announced eight showcase cities they will be working with on the initiative, including Philadelphia, PA. Microsoft will work closely with PA Mayor Michael Nutter to develop a strategic vision for development. Philadelphia recently launched an office of New Urban Mechanics that is tasked with initiatives like this.
CityNext essentially lumps together Microsoft solutions like cloud based email, online campaigning, and city outreach online. The company has also included two additional programs – YouthSpark and BizSpark. YouthSpark is a grant program to community organizations that help extend technology education to youth. BizSpark provides online business development resources to small businesses.
CityNext helps cities bring together disparate parts of their IT spend and partnerships under one smart city framework and fill gaps. Smart Cities initiatives often serve as a shared services-lite model that allows for better information flow and collaboration without going all the way into a shared services model. Smart Cities solutions from other players like IBM and Siemens also include smart grid and infrastructure technologies. Microsoft’s inclusion of their partner network may also include some similar solution options.
Mayors from participating cities have come together on a video about the initiative: