Microsoft CityNext is an initiative that empowers cities to be more sustainable, prosperous, and economically competitive—with a simplified approach. It helps cities unlock their potential by delivering innovative digital services that can help citizens lead safer, healthier, and more educated lives. You can read more about it at CityNext.
3D Soundscape for the visually impaired.
Independence Day. Microsoft’s 3D soundscape technology — an audio-rich experience in which the headset, smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons all work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss.
Microsoft Updates Navigation Headset for the Blind – “In 2011, Microsoft UK teamed up with charity Guide Dogs to create ‘Cities Unlocked,’ an organization that worked to create a headset designed to help the visually impaired. That device came last year, but now it’s received some major hardware and software upgrades. Although the original simply used bone conduction to send audio clicks and cues to guide the user around, the latest iteration is less of a practical tool and more of an information-rich service. It uses something called ‘3D soundscape technology,’ which is kind of like a GPS that describes everything that’s around them, from local cafés to alerts telling them when a bus or train is approaching the stop.”
City of Birmingham 311 Call Center
Birmingham 311 Call Center Boosts Operational Efficiency, Avoids Higher Costs with CRM Solution.
City of Birmingham. The City of Birmingham, Alabama, needed a new 311 call center solution to help route and track service requests from citizens. The call center’s previous system was expensive to maintain, difficult to use, and did not support how city departments worked. The city examined several solutions and selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM because of its technical flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use. In addition, licensing costs for the solution were just one-fourth of what established 311 software vendors demanded. With help from Microsoft Gold Certified Partner 2B Solutions, the City of Birmingham implemented the solution with custom workflows that supported processes at more than 20 different divisions. Just several months later, the 311 call center has improved service levels and dramatically increased employee adoption of the system, enabling managers to better track performance.
City of Glasgow
Glasgow foresees a city of the future, where citizens have open access to big data.
How Glasgow is Reinventing Itself with Data. In 2013, Glasgow City Council won £24 million in a competition to become a model for demonstrating smart city technology at scale. Here’s how the city is using the latest technology and open data culture to reinvent itself:
The city of the future is transparent
Glasgow realized straight away that you can’t take advantage of Big Data analysis tools unless you have loads and loads of data. Glasgow City Council moved to embrace an open data culture – declaring that all its non-sensitive and non-personal information would be open by default and freely shared. Initially, the council’s push for more open data was met with skepticism by some but the council persevered, saying open data is easier to analyze and share. They made their case using visualization tools, such as the PowerMap plugin for Excel, which helped stakeholders grasp the power of data analysis. As the appetite for insights grew, so did the willingness to share data.
The city of the future is responsive
Of course, it’s not enough to simply have access to troves of data. An organization needs to be able to store, sort, search and analyze data quickly and easily. That kind of capability would have required an expensive infrastructure investment in the old days of keeping everything on-premises. Luckily, Glasgow opted for a cloud solution: Microsoft Azure. Now they’ve got a powerful storage solution that scales, keeping costs contained.
The city of the future is an engine of growth
What does all that joined-up data get Glasgow in the end? For starters, services are more efficient, as analysis tools such as Power BI, let the city allocate resources more effectively. But that’s really just the start. Because Glasgow is committed to open data, people outside of city government can also access the data. Citizens can make better use of services and feel more engaged. Businesses can spot opportunities for growth. Communities can prosper.
Glasgow: A City of the Future
Ecosystem for Future City Innovation
“We want to create an ecosystem of future city innovation in the city,” says Birchenall. “Microsoft was a really good partner for us, as they understood and shared this vision and are helping to put in place a foundation on which we can develop that ecosystem.
Internet of Things
The emergence of sensors in everyday items offers new insights into city life. “Intelligent street lighting will help us to detect and record air quality, noise pollution and footfall all over the city,” explains Birchenall. It’s not just the council or big business who will benefit. Anyone who has a vested interest will be able to understand the services people may need. “Even a one-man taxi business could change his pick up points to serve more customers and generate more income,” says Birchenall.
Access to this new and precise data will influence the future development of Glasgow’s communities. “When planners meet with local leaders to discuss developments, they will understand the requirement better than ever before and will be able to make better decisions. In a time when budgets are tight, it is important to make every penny count and the aim is to do more with less,” explains Birchenall.
Insights from Everyday Activities
Making it easy for people to access information is key and Birchenall envisages the emergence of many apps to fulfil this requirement. Birchenall says: “There are already several locally-developed, third-party apps in place, such as the crowdsourcing of traffic information and popular cycle routes which indicate the presence of cycle racks and unfriendly inclines. Using these types of apps will become part of everyday life.”
Reimagining Public Services: The Art of the Possible
Citizens’ expectations for government are evolving. Everyone is trying to do more with less. At the same time, the next wave of mobile devices, social networks, cloud platforms and business insights tools have as much potential to change the way we live and work.
In Durham, the local constabulary became England’s only “Outstanding” rated police force by using Dynamics CRM to more efficiently manage case files and solve cases faster.
At West Wakefield, doctors are using Skype for Business to hold remote consultations with patients, erasing barriers to care for people who would otherwise struggle to make it to a local surgery.
In Shropshire, a collaboration platform allows council staff to work from anywhere, delivering services faster and lowering the cost of transaction.
In Glasgow, the city council adopted an open data policy, encouraging greater transparency and helping citizens make better use of services. Tools like Microsoft PowerBI and PowerMap grant access to simple visualisations of city data that can be acted on in real time.
Kent County Council
Reimagining Public Service at Kent County Council (UK)
Kent County Council. Kent County Council (KCC) UK is responsible for providing public services in education, transport, strategic planning, emergency services, social services, public safety and waste disposal to 1.4M residents across 12 district councils and 300 town and parish councils. KCC wanted to rethink Citizen Services for a digital world that would improve health and social care, regenerate towns and cities, and grow its gross domestic product (GDP) by using technology as an enabler to help make people’s lives better.