At the World Partner Conference Microsoft announced the CityNext initiative. Is this just some marketing concept or is this indeed something new? And if so, what companies and organization should participate in this?

Today’s social challenges are global and coupled not only to aspects of climate, energy, the environment and demographics, but also to social security and participation, to good health and to education. The demand for sustainable solutions is increasing. Consumer demands and manufacturing responsibility, related for example to environmental and sustainability parameters, drives a need for new solutions, new areas of competence and new technologies. In this perspective, social challenges have become an increasingly powerful force for change and thereby for new business possibilities.

“According to IDC’s Smart City Maturity Model, many cities are now in the first stages of implementing smart technology solutions as part of a 10- to 15-year path to realizing full transformation potential. The result of ‘smart city’ initiatives will ultimately enable cities to attract businesses and citizens to build more vibrant city landscapes and competitive economies.” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, director of the Smart Cities Strategies programme at IDC.

Forrester has defined the concept about smart computing as

Smart computing is a new generation of hardware, software, and network technologies that provide IT systems with real-time awareness of the real world and advanced analytics, mobile reach, and collaboration platforms to help people make more intelligent decisions about and create alternatives and actions that will optimize business processes and business balance sheet results.

And in many aspects this is what the CityNext is about. By putting people first and through the new era of collaborative technologies one can engage citizens, business and government leaders in new ways. By leveraging the global Microsoft Partner Network it will be possible to scale solutions and services and not only do more with less, it will be possible to do ‘New with Less’ and hence create growth with both social and environmental sustainability.

CityNext2By using one of the world’s largest open source community, CodePlex, and the possibilities that Azure and Office365 are bringing it will be possible to address some of the modern social challenges in a totally new way. This is what CityNext is about. So from that perspective it is not only the Microsoft Partners that should engage in this, it is the Public Sector, private contractors and the people that lives and works in the city.

It have never been so easy to get access to compute power and the newest version of products and services, hence one can now spend the time and money on innovations that make a difference. By the use of a common infrastructure and new collaborative technologies it will be possible to share solutions and services on a global scale and not just for the largest cities. A very inspiring example is from Kibera – a hotbed of innovations and ideas.

To summarize, I believe that CityNext is indeed something new that will change the way we will address the social challenges – and we will do this in a collaborative way – it is now time to start to engage and make some real difference, visit CityNext!