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Houston expands digital alliance with Microsoft

The partnership aims to help the city innovate in areas such as big data and AI to create new economic opportunity, close equity and skills gaps, and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.

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The programme is designed to address economic recovery by skilling
The programme is designed to address economic recovery by skilling

The city of Houston has expanded its digital alliance with Microsoft in a bid to advance civic innovation, smart city initiatives, and economic development and recovery.

 

The expansion builds on an Internet of Things (IoT) alliance forged between Microsoft and the city’s administration in May 2018.

 

Underserved communities

 

Microsoft’s new programme Accelerate: Houston, aims to address economic recovery through skilling both underserved communities and re-skilling the many Americans impacted by Covid-19.

 

The collaboration is intended to create new economic opportunity, close equity and digital skills gaps, and prepare a workforce for the 21st century through innovation in big data, artificial intelligence and the digital economy.

 

“More than two years ago, I announced our first transformative alliance with Microsoft – the first of its kind in the United States,” said mayor Sylvester Turner. “Today, I am pleased to say we are taking another leap towards strengthening Houston’s global standing as a centre for innovation and technology.”

 

In addition to Houston Innovation Alliance and Accelerate: Houston, other supporting partners include: Houston’s Innovation District at The Ion; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Kino-Eye Centre; Upskill Houston; University of Houston College of Technology; and Space Centre Houston.

“I am pleased to say we are taking another leap towards strengthening Houston’s global standing as a centre for innovation and technology”

To help accelerate the integration of technology and implement the vision to make Houston a centre of excellence for innovation in energy transition, AI, IoT and data science, Microsoft is investing more than $1m into programmes that support social entrepreneurship and other initiatives in partnership with Houston’s Innovation District at The Ion.

 

“Microsoft launched the Accelerate programme at a time when closing the digital divide has never been more important,” added Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft US.

 

“We’re thrilled to be joining mayor [Sylvester] Turner and an impressive group of partners in this effort to expand access to in-demand digital skills – and close digital skills gaps widened by Covid-19 through Accelerate: Houston.”

 

Through coordination with corporate partners, K-12 school systems and higher education providers, Microsoft is developing a holistic plan for professional development/support and addressing the equity gap across the community:

  • For transitioning members of the workforce and/or local veterans, the company will offer digital literacy workshops, empowerment programmes and other development training with industry experts through LinkedIn Learning, to help prepare them for opportunities in new technologies and increase digital skills training
  • For students, the company will bring the Microsoft Imagine Academy Learning Paths to Houston schools, with content and industry certifications mapped to student skill development. Additional programming includes LinkedIn workshops, DigiCamps and DigiGirlz camps, bringing young people together to plan their future, help them identify the skills they need to reach their goals, and connect to programs and technology that will help them get there
  • For K-16 education providers, Microsoft and partners will bring digital literacy training and modern workplace training focused on digital skills for educators.

“Our initial alliance with Microsoft, established in 2018, created the foundation for Houston to grow as a smart city. It brought start-up innovation to city challenges through The Ion Smart City Accelerator, proved out cases for the use of IoT and AI to make our city safer and more resilient, and provided equitable access to technology through digital literacy, upskilling programs and wi-fi on public transit,” said Jesse Bounds, innovation director for the city of Houston.

 

He continued: “This expansion will continue to build upon this foundation the skills, processes and technologies needed to drive future growth and equitable prosperity in the city and position Houston to be a shining example to others across the globe.”

 

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