How Technology Enables Sustainable Smart Cities
According to United Nations projections, sixty-eight percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Migration to urban centers is accelerating the need for digital transformation as governments and city leaders face pressure growing to make cities safer, accessible, sustainable, and prosperous. Creating smart cities is not just about technology. It’s about how technology improves the lives of residents, how it helps businesses thrive, and how it enables governments to deliver vital services to employees and citizens.
What is a smart city?
Smart cities are urban areas that use a range of technologies to improve living conditions, modernize services, increase accessibility, foster sustainability and increase economic development. Updating infrastructure, providing health care and securing an adequate food supply are a few areas that could benefit from investment in sustainable practices. To ensure that these investments generate real progress, organizations and individuals must share their collective learnings. Let’s look at real-life examples of technology enabling sustainability in smart cities, with additional insights from industry thought leaders.
How IoT and AI are sustainably revitalizing infrastructure
Technology has helped Miami-Dade County revitalize some of its critical infrastructure. Consistent water supply and wastewater management for millions of people in the seventh most populous county in the United States had strained the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) system. The department turned to IoT, a cloud database and sensors to improve overall operational efficiency.
Cities and county agencies are often overwhelmed with data and how to use it to deliver effective public services. “Technologies like IoT and AI can help sift through data to help make smarter decisions that lead to more sustainable communities,” says Glen Gilmore, former mayor and educator. Since implementing the solution, WASD has improved service, reduced infrastructure costs and operated more sustainably.
Smart cities improve the overall quality of life
Consider various infrastructure services in your community that maintain your daily quality of life, such as water lines and sewage treatment services. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection oversees the largest combined water and wastewater utility in the United States, delivering one billion gallons of drinking water every day and treating even more of waste water. Agency leaders saw the potential of using AI-powered chatbots to provide faster responses to employees calling the department’s IT and HR departments.
Using services from Microsoft Bot Framework, Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Dynamics 365, comprehensive employee self-service tools can help them reset passwords after hours, respond to frequently asked questions and manage and resolve tickets. As the department sees positive results in how employees are served by automated chatbots, it also plans to expand their use to water and utility customers.
“Anything we can do to gather more information from technology will help us make better decisions to drive long-term sustainability and create a better quality of life for everyone,” comments Phil Bertolini, former CIO of Oakland County, Michigan.
Smart city technology is modernizing healthcare facilities
Human health and well-being are linked to the state of the environment, with clean air and water and quality natural areas that meet our vital needs. As the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in the greater Seattle area, Swedish Medical Center has reduced its energy consumption and carbon footprint while complying with regulations. In partnership with MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions, the organization leveraged Microsoft technology and a partner solution, ICONICS, to modernize facility management with preventative maintenance, advanced fault detection and smart energy analytics . The solution achieved operational sustainability and improved efficiency with $350,000 in energy savings in the first year at just one of the Swedish campuses.
Healthcare organizations face unique challenges due to disconnected and disparate data. Health and Life Sciences Industry Advisor Tracy Picon highlights the use of technology to harness data and provide actionable insights to drive real-time change that has a positive and lasting impact on people. health organizations and their communities. A healthy society requires a healthy planet.
AI prepares smart cities for population growth
Preparing for population growth is crucial. Global food demand is expected to increase by 41% by 2050. However, smart farming technologies can help increase food production while saving water. Land O’ Lakes and Microsoft have partnered to innovate in agriculture, improve the supply chain, and improve sustainability practices for farmers and the food system.
Meeting population growth and global food demand is imperative, says Laura Edell, Chief Data Scientist at Microsoft US. “This is where AI comes in: creating new solutions can provide insights and insights to improve sustainable farming practices.” Land O’ Lakes, one of the largest farmer-owned cooperatives in the United States with 150 million acres of productive farmland, is working with Microsoft to ensure farmers have precise production to meet food demands .
Accelerating sustainability with technology at its heart
Whether using AI, digital twins, and IoT to update infrastructure or reduce resource usage, Microsoft continues to explore innovative ways to solve global challenges in of durability. Using technology and data-driven insights to make better decisions, cities can prepare for growth, become more sustainable, and thrive.
Microsoft is committed to empowering people to build a more sustainable future. Having the right digital platform to measure the impact of these technologies is essential. With the release of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, we’re bringing together powerful capabilities from Microsoft and our partners to help organizations record, report, and reduce emissions.
Our Microsoft Sustainability Manager, a Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solution unifies data to help monitor and manage environmental impact. Now organizations can easily record, report and reduce their environmental impact with increasingly automated data connections that provide actionable insights.