What’s next for cities and health

18 July 2013 | Neil Jordan, General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft

More than 50 percent of the people on the planet live in cities. And by 2050, it is estimated that number will increase to 70 percent. This means that cities are where the highest concentration of human potential exists. It also means they are fast becoming the centers for many of our world’s health issues. In particular, cities are 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 of thinking about health holistically. The well-being of citizens is affected by a city’s policies and services as well as its economy, environment, transportation, education, and more. And in turn the health of citizens affects the health of a city. This is especially true when it comes to a city’s economic viability, which is intrinsically linked to healthy people at work and being productive at full capacity.

So when we think about making a real impact in health, cities are a logical place to target. Which is why I’m excited about Microsoft CityNext. 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, and expertise of a city's people as they create a healthier, safer, more sustainable place to live.

Clearly, a task this monumental requires a collective effort, which is why the Microsoft Partner Network is a key tenet of the CityNext initiative. It includes hundreds of thousands of experienced partners with relationships in nearly every major city around the globe.

By bringing together an ecosystem of partner solutions based on familiar and secure software, devices, and services that people love to use, CityNext helps cities meet a range of needs from the consumer-related demands of citizens to the mission-critical, enterprise demands of city operations. It allows people to take advantage of the powerful convergence of cloud, mobility, and big data technologies available today to innovate and move cities and health forward:

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

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

Neil Jordan
General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft