Microsoft recently announced that it will provide a year’s worth of its Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform and ongoing assistance to 10 cities to support Envision America, a nationwide nonprofit aimed at helping American cities accelerate innovation. Microsoft has partnered with a many cities on cloud innovations ranging from Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that streamline operations and deliver improved citizen services, to open source data projects allowing government agencies to leverage vast amounts of information to better serve constituents. While this is great news, government adoption of cloud leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite the phenomenal growth of cloud computing in enterprises, the government sector has been slightly wary of cloud adoption mainly due to security, privacy and regulatory issues. While IDC predicts that the annual total IT infrastructure spend on cloud systems will be about $52bn by 2019; research by the market research firm MarketsandMarkets assumes that government agencies will invest only $18.48 billion dollars in cloud computing by 2018.
But the truth is, if governments want to invest in building smart cities of the future, it is almost impossible to do so without relying on the cloud. There are several reasons why governments around the world must include cloud computing in their journey towards digitization.
For example, with rapid urbanization, cities will be home to nearly 70% of the world’s population by 2050. For these cities to be sustainable, energy efficiency will be a major factor. This whitepaper from Microsoft provides an in-depth look how maturing cloud computing and data management technologies will offer new opportunities to address energy management issues on a new scale; one that is needed in a world of increasing energy and environmental constraints.
Smart buildings, which are at the heart of any smart city implementation, also need to rely on enterprise scalable cloud architecture to accrue the benefits of functions such as an event Hub, stream analytics, Hadoop and machine learning.
Also, a paper titled ‘Towards cloud based big data analytics for smart future cities’ in the Journal of Cloud Computing explains, an integrated perspective of managing and analysing the big data generated by cities can answer a number of science, policy, planning, governance and business questions and support decision making in enabling a smarter environment.
KPMG’s global study of governments’ adoption of cloud titled ‘Exploring the cloud’ has identified six steps that government agencies should take to gain a better understanding of how cloud will impact their organization. These include measures such as taking a comprehensive approach, identifying the right leadership, balancing risk and reward, creating centers of excellence, collaborating with vendors and the private sector.