a store front at night

According to the United Nations, more than 55 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas—and by 2050, that number could jump to 68 percent. With rapid urbanization on the rise, cities around the world face pressure to keep up with the pace of change and meet the growing demand for better, faster, and more efficient services.

Today’s government leaders must respond to these challenges by building smart cities that are innovative, inclusive, accessible, and sustainable. To do that, they’re turning to data-driven intelligence and technology like AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform the way they handle services such as transportation, public safety, and public works.

Cities looking to deploy intelligent technologies and transform city services have turned to Microsoft and its partner ecosystem. At Microsoft, our goal is to empower cities with the tools they need to:

  • Connect with citizens and drive more inclusive engagement.
  • Modernize the government workplace to facilitate interdepartmental and cross-agency collaboration.
  • Enhance government services through innovations like data analytics, machine learning, and AI.

Here are some of the ways we’re helping city leaders to accelerate transformation:

Simplifying IoT and overcoming roadblocks 

Implementing IoT can have huge payoffs, but it can also bring challenges. Whether striving to get projects off the ground or looking to extend their use of IoT, organizations often run into the same roadblocks: logistical complexity, security concerns, and a lack of technical expertise. To get a clearer picture of how we can better serve our customers and partners, and help business leaders develop their own IoT strategies, we recently conducted a survey of more than 3,000 decision-makers at enterprises around the world on their IoT development and practices. Read our IoT Signals Report to learn more about the findings.

Microsoft offers cities many options and approaches to help simplify IoT solution development and support flexible solution deployment. We also bring insights and offerings from other industries into our smart cities solutions for common IoT scenarios like remote monitoring and predictive maintenance.

Hitting the books at AI Business School 

We’ve heard from many business leaders who are eager to start using AI now but struggle with strategy and technological execution. That’s why earlier in 2019, we launched AI Business School to share insights and practical guidance from top executives on strategic AI application. In the first two months of launch, more than 140,000 business leaders immersed themselves in this free, on-demand master-class series.

In May, we added content designed specifically for government leaders, policymakers, and administrators to learn more about how AI can help them deliver more agile, consistent, and efficient services to their citizens.

Smart infrastructure case study: Langenfeld, Germany

The German city of Langenfeld has worked hard to attract business and new residents over the last decade. However, the city’s increasing population had not translated to increased business for shop owners in the city center who compete with online businesses and neighboring cities.

Langenfeld developed an IoT solution for public parking structures called City-Key, a virtual key that opens gates to local parking garages and offers users a parking credit based on a percentage of the price of goods purchased in participating local shops. These credits live in an online account and are treated as currency, so shoppers who accrue more credits than the cost of the day’s parking fees can maintain a balance of parking credit for future use.

The program has been a great success, easing access to stores and reducing parking fees for customers. After the first 100 days of implementation, 20 percent of customers visited the city center more frequently and for longer periods of time. So far, 4,000 customers have signed up for the program, and 65 percent of them have shown a preference for shopping with participating businesses.

As the success of City-Key has grown, so has the amount of data stored in the cloud. With security top of mind, the city has begun to explore how to use the program’s existing data to improve and personalize the City-Key experience for its users.

In the coming months, Langenfeld plans to expand the City-Key program to include a wide variety of city services, including access to public pools, libraries, and waste facilities. It is exploring other smart city projects, such as IoT sensors for intelligent lighting, air quality management, and metering solutions with citywide analytics and data visualizations.

Learn how to achieve your smart city vision.

See smart city solutions in action 

Learn how successful cities are adopting smart, hyperconnected technologies and already seeing improvements in public health, productivity, and living conditions—as well as reductions in crime, congestion, and pollution. Read about the business models, digital applications, and data solutions that cities are using to get more economic, social, and business value from smart city technology. Download the e-book.

Curious about Smart City Expo World Congress? See what happened and watch videos from the event.