What a week it’s been. I’m just back from four high-energy days in Houston, where Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference hosted some 16,000 participants from more than 160 countries. I got a chance to meet and share ideas with many of our valued tech partners who work with governments around the world.
In the wake of that conference, I’m excited to talk about a couple of important new initiatives we’ve just announced.
CityNext—a “People First” approach to the future
Across the globe, cities are the engines of economic growth and social development, and it’s at the city level that government connects most closely with citizens. For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s total population lives in urban areas, and the U.N. predicts that figure will rise to almost 70 percent by 2050. The challenges from that are huge—but at the same time I think the opportunities for creative solutions are just as great.
Microsoft’s new CityNext initiative is a great example. It’s a systemic approach to harnessing the energy and imagination of people to shape a healthier, safer, more sustainable place to live. By putting people first, CityNext empowers cities to make the most of existing investments. It’s intended to help you apply the right combination of tools to transform your infrastructure and operations, engage your citizens and businesses, and accelerate innovation, opportunity, and progress.
How do we make that vision a reality?
In a word, teamwork. Microsoft and our diverse Partner Network, with more than 430,000 partners worldwide, have the resources to help your city operate more efficiently and meet the expectations of a growing population. Our combined expertise complements what you know and understand about how government works on the inside. Together, we can put economical, locally tailored solutions, apps, and programs to the task of transforming your city into an even better place to live, work, and play.
But it’s our customers who can tell that story best. I love this new video, with city and regional leaders from around the world sharing some of the ways Microsoft partners have helped them innovate and prepare for the future. It complements our extensive new CityNext site, which details the diverse range of solutions, devices, and services Microsoft’s partner ecosystem can put to work for you.
Speaking of partners—voices from the front lines
We launched the Microsoft on Government blog last year with the vision of giving public sector decision-makers access to our subject matter experts, who are recognized for their deep knowledge on a range of topics including open government, big data, national cloud strategies, and much more.
Last week, we added a new dimension to the blog, kicking off our Guest Blogger initiative with a post by Microsoft partner Socrata, a company at the forefront of Open Data and government performance technologies.
With our Guest Blogger initiative, we’re providing a platform for partners worldwide to add their expertise to our ongoing conversation. It’s an opportunity for them to contribute firsthand perspectives gained from working closely with public sector organizations like yours.
I know there’s plenty of enthusiasm here at Microsoft and among our partners for this. As Alistair Pim, Vice President of Global Strategic Alliances for Microsoft partner Schneider Electric, told me: “We’re excited to join Microsoft's ecosystem of partners in the CityNext initiative and to participate more widely in the industry debate through the Guest Blogger initiative. We look forward to interacting with more people and helping cities accelerate their journey to become more efficient, livable, and sustainable.”
For another peek at the kind of thought leadership we can look forward to, check out Alistair’s recent blog post on the topic of tackling climate change. You’ll hear a lot more from Alistair and other experts like him as the series unfolds. I think you’ll find their insights and ideas as valuable as we do at Microsoft.
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