Tampere Smart City Expo & Conference

Microsoft | Building Smart Cities on secure and sustainable cloud

Column  29.05.2023

Innovative technologies can help cities operate more efficiently, but more importantly, they can help in developing smart cities of the future.

In the last 40 years, the number of people living in cities has doubled. According to the United Nations, nearly 70 percent of people will live in cities by 2050. Further, it is estimated that 80% of global economic growth is generated in cities, thanks to better labor distribution and opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and so on.

This trend of urbanization is also driving the trend of digitalization and Smart Cities. The residents of our ever-growing cities are used to fast and user-friendly access to information and digital services. In addition to responding to these needs, city officials must maintain and develop the city infrastructure – from water and electricity to public transportation.

As a result, cities worldwide are accelerating their digital transformation to provide connected, secure, and reliable services for their residents and businesses. The cities are tapping into advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, edge computing, and Internet of Things – striving to become smart.

Cities in the cloud

When we talk about ground-breaking technologies like AI and IoT, we must not forget cloud. For all the technologies of future smart cities to work for us and with us, we need cloud storage and computing power that is fast, efficient, sustainable, and secure.

At Microsoft, we are currently building a datacenter region in the Helsinki metropolitan area to accelerate the digital transformation of government, cities, businesses, customers, and partners across Finland. Our datacenter region in Finland will be one of the most energy-efficient datacenters in the world. It will be operated with renewable energy, and the excess heat generated by the servers will be converted to district heating by Fortum, serving cities of Espoo and Kauniainen, as well as the municipality of Kirkkonummi. The waste heat recycling system can reduce CO2 emissions from heating by up to 400,000 tonnes. Our datacenter project is an excellent example of cooperation between the government, municipalities, energy companies, technology providers and other stakeholders advancing sustainable digital development.

Tampere – a leading smart city

What do Dubai, Seoul, Tampere, and Rotterdam have in common? These four cities show the way in smart city development globally, utilizing cutting-edge technology to drive their urban development projects.

No-one knows what the fast evolution of AI, for example, means for cities of tomorrow. To reap the benefits of new technologies, we need to experiment with them, and that requires cooperation between different stakeholders. Tampere is an excellent example of a city that has taken an active and innovative role in smart city development and has become a thought leader in utilizing advanced technology in its smart city initiatives. One of the initiative is being a metaverse city. It will be something where the city is able to combine virtual reality and the ‘real reality’ in the areas such as mobility, healthcare, utilities and safety and security.

Microsoft’s role in the digital transformation of cities is simple: we help cities to see the possibilities of technology and become “smart”. We believe that technology is the key that helps cities to, for example, better meet their residents’ needs, reduce their environmental impact, as well as improve public safety, communication, and engagement.

We are extremely excited about the opportunity to exchange ideas and help build a sustainable digital future together with cities, researchers, and leading industry experts in Tampere, one of the fastest developing smart cities in the world. Let’s meet, discuss, and make cities smarter together!

Read more about Microsoft’s cooperation with smart cities on Microsoft’s website.


Column is written by Mervi Airaksinen,
Managing Director, Microsoft Oy