“Tech Intensity” for Smarter, More Inclusive Cities

Satya Nadella, G3ict, and Chicago city leaders discussing digital inclusion maturity model tool

Last month in Orlando, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, introduced the concept of “Tech Intensity. In today’s world computing is embedded everywhere and into all aspects of our lives. Tech Intensity is a strategy that enables companies and organizations to take advantage of that reality. It calls for two things — digital transformation by adopting leading-edge technologies and building greater digital capabilities within organizations. Tech intensity includes a focus on sharing data and information across organizations and breaking down silos in them. Partnerships support Tech Intensity.

At Smart Cities for All, we think Tech Intensity aligns well with cities becoming smarter and more inclusive.

Earlier this week, Nadella joined us in Chicago as we announced a big step forward for the Smart Cities for All global initiative and our new tool to help cities understand how inclusion is a part of their digital services and smart programs. We named Chicago as the first of several cities in the US and around the world to pilot our Smart City Digital Inclusion Maturity Model.

This tool will help cities evaluate the current state of ICT accessibility and digital inclusion of persons with disabilities. It focuses on a broad range of functions important to all cities, such as communications, procurement, training, and standards. It defines key performance indicators to support advancing accessibility and digital inclusion in a smart city context. The tool defines five levels of maturity for digital inclusion to help guide cities in assessing and tracking their progress across multiple smart city success factors, e.g. technology, data, culture, and strategy.

We named Chicago as the first pilot city, because of our longstanding partnership with the city and their longstanding commitment to being both smarter and more inclusive. Importantly, the leadership in Chicago, including CIO Danielle DuMerer and Disability Commissioner Karen Tamley, have a track record of collaborating across departments to ensure the city’s use of technology benefits everyone.

As part of the Digital Inclusion Maturity Model pilot, we will work closely with Chicago’s leaders and communities to understand how the city’s digital transformation and inclusion strategies align. Together, and with experts from Microsoft and other partners, we will explore how key smart city variables support inclusion, including Chicago’s partnerships, culture of innovation, use of data, and leadership. These are many of the same critical concepts that Satya Nadella spotlights as important to Tech Intensity.

In Orlando last month, Nadella ended his remarks on Tech Intensity by saying that it can’t only be just about adopting technology to achieve more security, greater efficiencies, and broader business impact. Tech Intensity must also allow us to ensure that the benefits created by digital technology are equitably distributed throughout our economy and throughout our society.

We agree! We look forward to piloting our Digital Inclusion Maturity Model with partners at Microsoft and in Chicago to help make sure that city’s digital transformation improves life for everyone.

In the coming weeks, we will announce additional cities as partners to pilot the Smart City Digital Inclusion Maturity Model. If you are interested in being a pilot city, let us know. In the meantime, cities around the world can be using our Smart Cities for All toolkit, available in 10 languages, to be making progress today!