Microsoft Spotlights Partner IoT Efforts Around 'Smart Cities'

Microsoft recently put the spotlight on several of its partners that are at the forefront of the "smart cities" movement through their use of Azure's Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities.

Microsoft highlighted its partnerships in the context of last month's IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona. One such partner is View, which is using the Azure Digital Twins spatial-mapping service, currently at the preview stage, for its smart building applications.

View is also using Azure IoT Edge and Azure Sphere for controlling its "dynamic glass" product, according to a Nov. 13 Microsoft announcement. Dynamic glass is a pane of glass that's designed to bring optimal amounts of natural sunlight into a building, with an aim of benefiting the occupants and reducing building energy demands.

Microsoft's IoT Edge service went live in June. It adds access to various Azure services, including Stream Analytics, Azure Functions and Machine Learning. It works via containers or "modules" that run locally on devices, according to a Microsoft document description of Azure IoT Edge. The other product being used by View, Azure Sphere, is currently at the public preview stage. Azure Sphere is Microsoft's Linux-based microcontroller unit for use in Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

View is using the Azure Digital Twins service for its new View SmartProtect security solution, which senses when building glass gets broken. SmartProtect, which is "completely invisible," according to a View announcement (PDF), sends a notification about the location of the broken window and the time of the incident.

Another partner, Moovit, will be Microsoft's supplier of public transit routing services to the Azure Maps service, Microsoft announced earlier this month. The Azure Maps service delivers location information that can be tapped by developers via APIs. The service can be used by organizations, as well as partners building solutions for smart cities management, for instance.

Moovit makes urban data analytics solutions (called "Mobility as a Service"). It also has a transit application that delivers public transit information to commuters and other users. Under its agreement with Microsoft, Moovit is putting its public transit APIs on Azure datacenter infrastructure. Microsoft, for its part, plans to integrate Moovit's public transit information into Microsoft apps and services, according to a Moovit description (PDF). Moovit's data could be used in Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant app to assist with commutes, for instance.

Other highlighted partners in the smart cities context include LTI, which is using Azure Maps in its Advanced Operations Center for city administrators. The Advanced Operations Center provides an interface for monitoring events using information gathered from sensors in urban areas. Another company, LTTS, is using Azure Digital Twins in a campus facility management solution. Microsoft also recently pointed to partner Datahoist, which uses IoT devices to gather data from building elevators.

For this week's Smart City Expo World Congress event, Microsoft also highlighted efforts by the city of Antwerp, Belgium, to provide trip planning services for citizens in a solution that uses "Microsoft Azure-based Be-Mobile technology." Another highlighted effort is an experimental "City-as-a-Service platform" using Azure services that was built by software company Tieto for the city of Espoo, Finland. 

In the United States, the city of Denver is testing traffic improvement solutions using "Azure and other Microsoft technologies." The city of Houston is using Azure IoT Hub, AI and Cognitive Services as part of a safety system for public buses, Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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