smart-citiesThe Surat Municipal Corporation has partnered with Microsoft India to make the vibrant economic center a showcase smart city in Microsoft’s CityNext program. Surat, already an early adopter of technology and e-governance, is one of 13 cities around the world including Paris, Washington, and Auckland, using technology to build a foundation for sustainable growth and prosperity by enabling smarter delivery of city services and greater citizen interaction.

Surat’s mayor, Niranjan Zanzmera, said the program is setting a benchmark for other cities in India in using IT solutions and that the administration is evaluating ways to meet future needs of its citizens in the fourth-fastest growing city in the world.

The city already is a major business hub for both the Indian and global economies – 80 percent of the world’s diamonds are processed in Surat as well as 40 percent of India’s textiles. At the same time, it faces challenges that come with the growth rapid growth of its population, which already stands at more than 50 lakhs—or more than 5 million people. This growth is a challenge faced throughout India and the rest of the world.

Through its CityNext initiative, Microsoft India integrates information technology in a people-first program to address needs for infrastructure and to support sustainable economic growth. India’s national government has allocated funds to develop 100 smart cities to take advantage of these capabilities, and it comes at the right time – the country’s urban population is expected to grow from 350 million in 2008 to 590 million in 2030. Globally, 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050.

Microsoft CityNext integrates real-time data analytics to make information available, enabling both city officials and citizens to make informed choices with applications that touch all segments of city administration, including transportation, surveillance, smart energy grids, health, tourism, and education. By leveraging existing applications, these solutions empower both government officials and citizens. The civic-corporate partnership with Surat includes e-governance solutions for government administrative systems including project management and information transaction gateways, utility services and public safety, as well as a City Dashboard to provide a unified custom view of key performance indicators in services delivery.

In December, an “Appathon” was held with more than 100 technical students, software developers and others in the IT community developing applications on the Windows platform to help improve citizen engagement. One product of this event was an app to help drivers trace their cars when they have been towed by police. By entering the license number in the app, the owner can get the exact location of the vehicle.

As a new Smart City, citizens in Surat will be able to access real-time data on city services including energy, sanitation, water, health, and education through a combination of cloud technology, mobile applications, data analytics and social networks – for healthier and safer communities in India and around the world.