The Record - Issue 16, Spring 2020

98 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E T he concept of smart cities has long-been seen as the epitome of human civilisation: col- lecting data about citizens – their shopping choices, the way they travel and how they think communities could be improved – and using it to improve public sector services. Organisations like Microsoft are realising this kind of innovation. “There are many challenges that smart cities could help to solve,” says Kirk Arthur, senior director of business development for government at Microsoft. “They range from reducing conges- tion through data-enabled transportation systems and managing urban waste more efficiently, to caring for vulnerable populations and improving cybersecurity for citizens and governments.” Many technologies can be employed to create this type of hyper-aware urban infrastructure, including the internet of things (IoT), according to Arthur. “IoT solutions can help connect infrastructures to better regulate traffic, make emergency systems more efficient and reduce emergency response times,” he explains. “Microsoft gives its customers access to a comprehensive portfolio of products, services and solutions to make the most of those IoT opportunities across devices, cloud, analytics and back-end systems.Wemake it possible for gov- ernments to bring IoT to any device and any plat- form so they can use their existing infrastructure and have a flexible and scalable solution that adapts to their needs and processes.” Having worked with various governments and public sector organisations for over 40 years, Microsoft has a wealth of experience in pro- viding smart technologies to solve problems facing communities, including public safety in emergency situations. In partnership with IT solution provider Insight, Microsoft deployed an IoT-enabled alert and emergency response sys- tem built on the Microsoft Azure platform called ActiveShield in the Aldine Independent School District in Texas, USA. “Combined with data from cameras, motion sensors and alarms, Insight Connected Safety enables two-way communication and real-time alerts designed to protect students, staff and first responders in the event of an emergency,” says Arthur. “This is just one of the ways that we are using our solutions to realise smart cities based on data-enabled decisions.” IoT can also transform urban transportation by reducing congestion and emissions. The Belgian city of Antwerp employed the expertise of Microsoft and mobility expert Be-Mobile to enhance the city’s transportation network with smart technology. “The city was facing increasing congestion, aggravated by the need for roadway repairs,” Intelligent technologies like the internet of things and artificial intelligence are delivering governmental and public sector services that, until recently, could only be dreamed of BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S smart city (r)evolution The