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Cloud Perspectives

Cities worldwide are operating more sustainably, thanks to cloud technology. With real-time operations insights and sophisticated analysis capabilities, innovative solutions backed by Azure Cloud Services are driving continuous improvement and cost savings. These smart approaches to environmental challenges enable government agencies to provide more proactive, responsive, and customer-focused services, with five main benefits:

  1. Reduced waste—in resources and operations

In Los Angeles, California, the Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN) has implemented a cloud-based mobile solution, SANSTAR, to improve waste-removal operations. It combines geographic information system mapping, tracking, and dashboarding capabilities with real-time field communications, allowing crews to respond to new requests and overcome disruptions more quickly. Using predictive data to plan routes and provide current information, SANSTAR is driving more efficient waste pickup, reducing drivers’ overtime hours, and cleaning up the streets.

  1. In-the-moment automation and adaptation

Hundreds of U.S. municipalities have combined sewer systems that convey wastewater and stormwater using the same pipes. To protect waterways from sewer runoff during heavy rains, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has installed Azure cloud-based smart water monitoring and control technology.

PWD’s system combines forecast data with automated control of stormwater storage and release. The predictive solution enables public works managers to monitor sewer system health, predict potential issues, and act on established patterns. Over the past five years, it’s kept 1.5 billion gallons of polluted water out of local rivers.

  1. Greater efficiency and accountability

The Lake County Public Works Department in Illinois has rolled out a cloud solution to monitor water consumption and promote conservation. The cloud-based advanced metering system automatically takes customers’ water meter readings and communicates the results to Lake County Public Works Department via a wireless network.

The cloud-based solution has streamlined operations, saved money, and demonstrated accountability. By eliminating onsite meter reading and reducing technician visits, it has saved an estimated $250,000 annually while preserving an essential natural resource.

To improve customer communication and service, LASAN’s SANSTAR system continuously monitors and updates field service requests to ensure information is current and actionable. Call centers are then better equipped to respond to calls and provide up-to-date information on the status of a ticket, establishing trust with customers and improving overall service.

  1. Enhanced quality of citizen services

Lake County has set up a web portal giving customers a more active role in water conservation by allowing them to monitor and control usage. They also can receive text alerts when their usage is unusually high or constant, flagging a possible leak. By engaging customers, the county is raising awareness, saving money, and preserving a precious resource.

  1. Secure customer and operations data

The Azure cloud platform has been approved by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program—a critical factor for government agencies. The new systems at LASAN, Lake County, and PWD all involve handling of potentially sensitive data, be it customer information or utility operations. Because these systems run on Azure, the municipal agencies and their customers can rest assured that they are managed with the highest security and reliability.

Learn more about how Microsoft is empowering cities to be more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive at Microsoft CityNext.