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New Urbanism and Louisville as a Microsoft regional hub for AI, Internet of Things, data science

By Adam Bruns
Site Selection Magazine

Among the topics at the 27th annual Congress for the New Urbanism in mid-June in Louisville, Kentucky was a panel discussion on “How Smart Do Cities Really Need to Be, and Does Being Smart Really Make Cents?”

The timing couldn’t have been better, as Microsoft on June 7 announced that Louisville will become a Microsoft regional hub for artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and data science.

Photo provided by Site Selection Magazine/Getty Images

The news illustrated one of many approaches to the nebulous concept of the smart city, which means a thousand different things to a thousand different communities.

In Texas, it means a new Mobility Innovation Zone from AllianceTexas developer Hillwood, Deloitte’s Future of Mobility Global Practice and partners. In downtown Montgomery, Alabama, it means creating a Smart City Living Lab. In Florida, developer Kitson & Partners is installing environmental sustainability and autonomous driving infrastructure at Babcock Ranch, a new city near Punta Gorda that sits on 18,000 acres that one day could be home to 50,000 people.

“There is a global demand for talent, and we believe with the quality of infrastructure we have created here, including gigabit fiber to every single residence and WiFi in all of our public spaces, plus solar energy, we will attract that talent to Babcock Ranch,” Lucienne Pears, vice president of economic and business development for Babcock Ranch, told Site Selection’s Ron Starner.

At Art Basel in June, BMW together with Studio Roosegaarde invited visitors to experience “SYNC,” an immersive installation combining flexible membranes, light, and music inspired by BMW Vision iNEXT and addressing the impact of human-centered design on space.

In Louisville, it makes sense and cents and means immediate investment from a global giant. The AI Innovation Digital Alliance means Microsoft will create and fund an AI, IoT, and data science fellowship program. The fellows will work with nonprofit, education, start-up, and workforce development organizations, and with area businesses to provide training and support.

Microsoft will establish a physical location downtown.

Additional activities include:

• Microsoft will partner with pre-school through higher education providers on digital literacy training and, with Louisville Metro, support the Digital Inclusion initiative to close the digital skills gap present in under-invested and disenfranchised communities.

• Louisville Metro, Microsoft, and the Brookings Institution will collaborate on a comprehensive local strategy focused on the impacts of AI, IoT and data science technologies on communities.

• Microsoft will support the local entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem through grants and other resources.

Microsoft’s smart city infrastructure clients around the world include Houston and Denver in the U.S.; Cascais, Portugal; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Kiruna, Sweden.

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