Microsoft, Ericsson step up networked city focus

Software major Microsoft and telecom equipment vendor Ericsson are giving new dimension to their networked city focus.

Microsoft India’s CityNext initiative, announced on Monday, is designed to enable city residents and city leaders to use technology to build a foundation for sustainable growth and prosperity.

Microsoft, which is already working with a number of city projects, identified more than 40 solution areas across eight city domains that help address 90 percent of the challenges cities faces.

Microsoft India says the country will have more than 69 cities with a population of more than one million by 2030. “Around 590 million people will be living in cities,” said Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman – Microsoft India.

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Meanwhile, Ericsson’s Networked City Index for 2013 ranked Stockholm, London and Singapore as top three cities among 31 measured. Mumbai and Delhi in India are part of this list.

The Swedish capital’s top ranking is due to its well-developed ICT infrastructure, with a high penetration of smartphones and high-speed connections as well as advanced usage paired with innovation and development initiatives utilizing ICT as core enabler.

Patrik Regardh, head of Ericsson’s Networked Society Lab, said ICT significantly speeds up interactions between various actors, making them more intense and cost-effective. The reduced cost of information exchange and transactions lowers the threshold for new enterprises and collaborations.

IT outsourcing majors Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Wipro are working with Microsoft for CityNext project.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice president and head of Government Business, TCS, said its work with Microsoft can help cities find investments, solutions, partnerships and social programs. This will enable them to attract business, build more vibrant city landscapes and competitive economies.

Ericsson’s Networked City Index for 2013 report says how Shanghai’s Environmental Protection Bureau communicates daily air quality information via its website and Weibo is a good example. The aim is to spread knowledge about the adverse health effect due to poor air quality among the urban population of Shanghai.

Microsoft and partners help several overseas cities address their most pressing issues in a modern and innovative manner. For example, Barcelona has been working with Microsoft and its partners in a number of key initiatives. These include an enhanced virtual desktop infrastructure for field employees supported by the Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 operating systems.

Partha Sarathi Guha Patra, VP & head Corporate Affairs, Wipro, said that Indian city leaders are increasingly looking at how they can drive cohesive and uniform city-wide development.

In India, the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics AX (2009) by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System improved its efficiency, reduced costs and eliminated redundant manual processes. After deployment, the organization benefitted from better control, improved financial and human resources management, and ability to administrate revenues.

There is an increased demand for better city development. According to EU research, about 1 percent of GDP annually is lost on traffic congestion.

A study from the US calculates that 70 million hours per year are spent finding a parking space.

And globally, inadequate road safety is estimated to cost $518 billion, the equivalent of 1-2 percent of an average nation’s annual GDP. Traffic accidents kill nearly 1.3 million people each year and an additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.

Ericsson said in addition to the top-three ranking cities, Stockholm, London and Singapore, the following cities are also part of the index: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dhaka, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lagos, Los Angeles, Manila, Mexico City, Miami, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Oslo, Paris, São Paolo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo.

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