Manchester is one of the first cities on Microsoft’s CityNext initiative to digitise public services using the cloud.
Transport for Greater Manchester used Windows Azure to host a new real-time open data platform that has already drawn more than 100 third-party developers, according to Microsoft.
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The initiative aims to use technology to manage cities. According to IDC's Smart City Maturity Model, many cities are now in the first stages of implementing smart technology as part of a 10 to 15-year transformation.
“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.
On the Microsoft government blog, Orlando Ayala, chairman of emerging markets at Microsoft, wrote: “This is the first time in history that the pieces are in place to fundamentally empower the people and businesses that can make a city thrive. Cities that get it right will have an edge in attracting talent, strengthening the economy, and creating liveable communities that are the envy of the world.”
Laura Ipsen, corporate vice-president of Microsoft worldwide public sector, said: "Working with our vast Microsoft partner network, we can scale solutions and services to do 'new with less', enabling cities to better compete in the global marketplace, drive citizen engagement, and foster economic, social and environmental sustainability."
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the new EU-wide European Medicines Verification System (EMVS) will be built on top of Windows Azure.