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Young woman using laptop at dawn above the city, Barcelona, Spain

Here at Microsoft, we’ve made a big commitment to help cities and governments become “smart.” What does that mean? It means we believe there is a huge opportunity for technology to help cities become more responsive to their residents, reduce the environmental impact of transportation and utilities, improve public safety, enhance communication and citizen engagement, and much more.

In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an inflection point, as the need for effective hybrid work and improved urban resilience has driven a dramatic increase in how city governments view and use technology. We’re now seeing digital infrastructure integrate with the build environment in ways we didn’t think possible just a few years ago. The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology and has put it on value. It has also changed our habits regarding work, social behaviors, and consumption. Read more about the 10 keys to understanding the post COVID-19 city.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to be taking part in the 2021 Smart City Expo & World Congress, the premier event focusing on urban innovation. After missing 2020, the event is back—albeit in hybrid form. While many participants will visit Barcelona, the physical site of the expo, there also will be a parallel digital program broadcast by Tomorrow.City. Learn how to register here.

This year’s expo will explore topics ranging from urban mobility, to improved governance, to driving more efficient economies, to safety and security.

We’ll be represented by a range of Microsoft experts and partners. Jeremy Goldberg, Microsoft’s Director of Critical Infrastructure, will appear November 16, 2021, in a plenary session titled “Inclusion, Right, and Ethics at the Core of Digital Transformation.

Over the last several months, Microsoft and Accenture have been teaming up to help solve transportation challenges and we are excited to have Accenture presenting a live demo at the Microsoft Booth during Smart Cities Expo. This new platform will provide cities, departments, and transportation agencies with the ability to use data more effectively for more efficient operations, enhanced safety, and better day-to-day experiences for city residents.

Another partner of ours, Swedish ClimateView provides ClimateOS platform, a collaborative decision-making SaaS for local governments to plan, simulate and execute their climate transition. Pioneering cities across Europe and North America use the platform to reach their Paris Agreement targets and build zero carbon economies. Built on Azure, it enables faster delivery and financing of climate action by combining data, advanced modeling, and beautiful visualization in a single easy to use platform.

Our work with cities also will be a highlight of another November 16 session: “Cutting-Edge Urban Technologies.” We’ll be discussing the work of Microsoft Qatar on the TASMU Platform, which we think is a ground-breaking piece of work for smart cities. Built on our secure Azure cloud, TASMU works as a digital marketplace in Qatar that streamlines the delivery of public services and makes it easier to perform tasks ranging from pay bills to making healthcare appointment to managing home and office.

In addition, Microsoft program manager Sergio Gonzalez will be giving a “solution talk” on Azure Precept, an easy-to-use, secure platform for creating edge artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Using Precept, IT administrators in city governments can develop new and innovative ways to perform tasks such as managing transit, detecting pollution sources, oversee emergency responses, or take on any other challenge they might face.

At digital “side events,” several of our partners will discuss:

One interesting project is the new Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), an European Union initiative designed to help member countries respond to economic and social disruptions caused by COVID-19. Projects such as the RFF show real promise in helping countries weather disruptive events, whether it’s a pandemic or related to climate change.

We’re excited about this opportunity to share our vision for smarter cities, while also learning from experts who will be attending from around the world. Cities do so much for people—they create jobs, create vibrant cultures, and lead to a myriad of social interactions not available elsewhere. Everything social happens at cities. It’s our hope that technology can make cities even more exciting and dynamic in the year to come.