Microsoft and Auckland Transport (AT) have announced an agreement that looks to boost agility and innovation while also reducing costs and improving sustainability in transport services.
The organisations say that a central part of the agreement involves shifting ATs data and computing from on-premises servers to Microsoft Azure cloud.
Microsoft will also be training AT employees in cloud fundamentals, security and other digital skills to help them get the most from emerging technologies.
They say this will help attract and retain the best people, while also enabling AT to shift its focus from business as usual to exploring innovative ways technology can be harnessed to create new services and enhanced experiences.
Aucklanders will also benefit from cost savings and the extra agility and efficiency that public cloud creates for AT.
During times of high demand, AT will no longer need to wait for more physical servers to be ordered, and public cloud services can simply expand to deliver extra capacity as needed. They can then cope instantly with more web traffic, transport service updates and card top-up requests.
If demand ever falls again, as it did during the Covid lockdowns, AT also won't be left paying for unused infrastructure.
Next-generation security services will also help boost the resilience of ATs transport systems and better protect customer data.
Roger Jones, Executive General Manager Business Technology at AT, says the company is pleased to have partnered with an organisation with similar sustainability values and strategy alignments. He says this will create helpful and positive outcomes for the people of Tāmaki Makaurau.
"At its core, this agreement is about smarter use of resources: using less of the planet's precious resources, optimising operations and increasing our internal capability to make the most of data and modern technologies," he says.
"All of this will help us become a much more agile, efficient organisation that will deliver better services across the region and improve the liveability of our city for many decades to come."
Microsoft's forthcoming hyperscale data centre region is said to be among the most sustainable ever built. It will run on 100%renewable energy from day one and use waterless cooling technologies.
Using Microsoft's cloud solutions, AT will easily be able to track emissions across its networks and adjust policies or services to reduce these further.
Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, also highlighted the potential for innovation that the agreement would enable. She says that having a data centre region will enable countless opportunities.
"One of the things we were getting lots of enquiries about is latency and the ability to upload and download data in almost real time, which ATs CCTV networks at stations and intersections rely on," she says.
"Having a local data centre region here in Aotearoa means much lower latency than ever, so transport systems can run more smoothly and AT is able to respond faster to security or safety incidents, in partnership with Waka Kotahi and the police."