The city of Charlotte, North Carolina and Microsoft have entered into an agreement to create a regional center focused on STEM workforce development, internet of things (IoT) technology, and innovation. The three-year partnership will focus on five areas: smart transit systems, public WiFi, public safety infrastructure, safer neighborhoods, and upward mobility for neighbors.
Throughout the collaboration, Microsoft will support the city through various volunteer initiatives and will provide hands-on technology training at events throughout the city. The public-private initiative aims to increase digital skills at every level of education. Microsoft recently announced it plans to create 430 new jobs in Charlotte and invest $23.9 million to expand its operations there.
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.”
Kate Johnson, President of Microsoft US, 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.
“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,” Johnson said. “In this case, that means modernizing to become a smart city to serve the people of Charlotte more effectively. Adopting new technology is only half the digital transformation equation. 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.”