What’s next for cities and health

More than 50percent of the people on the planet live in cities. And by 2050, it isestimated that number will increase to 70 percent. This means that cities are wherethe highest concentration of human potential exists. It also means they are fastbecoming the centers for many of our world’s health issues. In particular, citiesare facing an increase in non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes,smoking-related health problems, and cardiovascular diseases—preventable,chronic conditions that account for upwards of 70 percent of medical costs.

Cities are places where more than anywhere else, we see the importance ofthinking about health holistically. The well-being of citizens is affected by acity’s policies and services as well as its economy, environment,transportation, education, and more. And in turn the health of citizens affectsthe health of a city. This is especially true when it comes to a city’s economicviability, which is intrinsically linked to healthy people at work and beingproductive at full capacity.

So when we think about making a real impact in health, cities are alogical place to target. Which is why I’m excited about MicrosoftCityNext. It’s a people-first approach to innovation that empowers governments, businesses,and citizens to shape the future of their city. People-first means harnessing all the ideas, energy, andexpertise of a city's people as they create a healthier, safer, moresustainable place to live.

Clearly, a task this monumental requires a collective effort, which iswhy the Microsoft PartnerNetwork is a key tenet of the CityNext initiative. It includes hundreds of thousands ofexperienced partners with relationships in nearly every major city around theglobe.

By bringingtogether an ecosystem of partner solutions based on familiar and securesoftware, devices, and services that people love to use, CityNext helps cities meeta range of needs from the consumer-related demands of citizens to themission-critical, enterprise demands of city operations. It allows people to take advantage of thepowerful convergence of cloud, mobility, and big data technologies availabletoday to innovate and move cities and health forward:

  • Cloud. Cloud computing enables cities to bridgethe gap between all the different organizations and agencies involved incitizen care and services. It can help care teams cross infrastructuralboundaries and share patient information in a secure manner.
  • Big data—andlittle data, too. Big data helps cities look at overall trends in healthand well-being. And “little data” is important as well. Something as simple asallowing a home care nurse to take advantage of user-friendly analytics todecide which clients to see and when, based on their availability and needs, canhelp a city increase efficiency and care quality.
  • Devices.Engaging people with devices that support many different needs and workstylesis an integral part of the CityNext initiative. A doctor may need an 8″ tabletthat fits into his or her white coat pocket, while an emergency responder mayneed a more rugged tablet. And citizens can use health and wellness mobile appsto take charge of their health. A great example of one such app will be coveredin Dr. Bill Crounse’s blog next week.

Based on cloud, analytics, and mobiletechnologies, CityNext offers several health-specific solutions to empower peopleto create healthier cities. Another blog to watch out for next week is ElenaBonfiglioli’s, which will share more detail about these solutions.

Neil Jordan
General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft