Every other day a tech blog site seems to be writing about how either Apple or Google will dominate the next wave of technology in the race towards the IoT. Pieces about the potential of Android Auto or Car Play, Dropcam, Nest or the myriad of other IoT initiatives, are littered about on the internet, but news about Microsoft’s presence in the IoT things seems to be pretty ho-hum. Roughly a year ago, Microsoft began to make their pitch for their right to be part of the IoT march with Windows 10. Since the announcement at Build last year, it has seemed like that initiative was put on the back burner in favor of fixing Windows 10 for desktops, PCs and phones.
According to the business magazine and online publication Fast Company, Microsoft left the flashy product reveals and acquire-hires for other companies and instead has quietly been improving current in use products and services like health care, elevator maintenance and emergency response systems in New Orleans.
Fast Company, the online publication dedicated to highlighting advancements in technologies, has released their list of The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in the Internet of Things. In that list, Microsoft ranks 6th and they did so, not by announcing in-dash car entertainment systems or changing people’s in-home temperatures, but by being able to improve emergency response systems for the city of New Orleans.
Microsoft is utilizing their CityNext initiative and technologies to develop innovative public sector IoT projects. As the IoT things trend grows, the benefits offered to cities, counties, and states which will be connecting swaths of disparate data from devices and services big and small; will be immeasurable. The ability to organize and facility this information to improve citizen’s experiences while also saving money is part of the CityNext program.
In New Orleans, 911 dispatchers, the police, the fire department and emergency medical services were able to reduce the response times of their more than a million 911 calls per year. These departments reduce their times by using a Motorola Solutions application that ran on top of Windows Embedded products.
Fast Company’s list seems to take in part, the grander scheme of where the IoT things rest in the everyday lives of most people. While Microsoft sits at 6th on the list, they are also among the likes of Transport for London (TfL) who rest at number 5 “for bringing the world’s first subway into the 21st Century”. TfL also works with CGI, telent Technology Services as well as with Microsoft to bring integrated cloud-connected sensors into the London Subway systems. This partnership allows transit official the ability to spot problems in real time from a central control system, rather than from separate disconnected set of devices. CGI has also recently launched their Future Cities initiative and it aligns nicely with Microsoft’s CityNext program.
For right now, it looks like Microsoft is seeing some real-life momentum in the IoT among state and local governments while also offering potentially lifesaving benefits.