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Houston seeks to digitally transform

Mayor points to the city’s “rapid successes” in the innovation ecosystem

Houston is rapidly developing tech innovation as its next big industry
Houston is rapidly developing tech innovation as its next big industry

Houston, Texas, has teamed with Microsoft to progress Internet of Things (IoT) programmes that focus on improving innovation and digital literacy in the US city.


Five neighbourhood communities will be chosen where one or more middle schools or high schools will be adopted as “tech advancement laboratories” to equip people with the necessary skills to further their employment, career and entrepreneurship goals.


According to mayor Sylvester Turner, the city is the first in the US to form an alliance with the tech giant. “On a long-term basis, Microsoft will up Houston’s technology game, starting at the grassroots,” he said.


The city will conduct events under the ‘YouthSpark LIVE’ banner on how young Houstonians can use technology to further their employment, career and entrepreneurship goals.


It will also support the promotion and establishment of initiatives that focus on science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) education and economic development for the city and its local government and non-profit partners in the area, as well as provide free software and support to start-up businesses under a programme called BizSpark.


Meanwhile, DigiGirlz camps is intended to give high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in STEM and participate in hands-on computer instruction.


In addition, a digital platform will be provided for the “Houston Still Needs You” programme that documents the hours of work by volunteers aiding in long-term recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey. Volunteer hours can be used to offset the amount of money the city must pay to complement FEMA assistance.


“Microsoft chose us because of the ambitious goal I set for Houston to grow technology innovation as its next economic frontier -- after doing the same thing with energy, medicine, space exploration and the port,” added Turner.


“Houston is rapidly developing the technology innovation field as its next big industry. Now you know what I meant when I said in my annual state of the city speech that we didn’t get Amazon (as a possible location for its second headquarters) so we will make our own.”


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