The Charlotte Observer
By Catherine Muccigrosso
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Smart buses. Smart street lights. LinkedIn Learning. It’s all coming soon to the city of Charlotte.
On Wednesday, leaders with the city met with Microsoft to sign an agreement for a three-year digital alliance.
Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones said the city is working to create career paths with possibilities for everyone.
One way to make sure we are a city of the future is using data and analytics,” Jones said. “It’s a great opportunity for us.”
Charlotte is the second city in the U.S. to partner with Microsoft. In May, Houston made the first-of-its-kind agreement with the tech giant, according to Texas media reports.
Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S., said a smart city will allow public services to talk to one another and collaborate more easily to direct support and city resources where they’re needed most. It also means providing more opportunities and a more inclusive environment to bridge the digital divide, she said.
“Technical intensity (is) this belief that the digital transformation of industry and society is going to require that every business and every organization and yes, community, become a digital one,” she said. “In this case, that means modernizing to become a smart city to serve the people of Charlotte more effectively.”
Five pilot programs will launch by the end of the year, said Cameron Carr, a Microsoft director.
The programs will leverage technology and education to benefit residents, businesses and entrepreneurs: smart transit systems, public Wi-Fi connectivity, skills and training, public safety infrastructure and safer neighborhoods, according to the city.
Adopting new technology is only half the digital transformation equation,” Johnson said. “Organizations also need to build digital capability by ensuring they have the right people with the right digital skills. That’s why I’m so delighted that so much of this alliance is about the people.”
Microsoft and partners will make an undisclosed investment in the project, city officials said.
Last month, Microsoft announced plans to invest nearly $24 million and add more than 400 high-paying jobs as it expands its 408,000-square-foot southwest Charlotte campus that spans two buildings on 22 acres. Some Charlotte area jobs are already posted on Microsoft’s careers website,
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