Helping cities find ways to offer new services with fewer resources is a key part of Microsoft CityNext. Public sector offices are always on the lookout for ways to trim waste and increase efficiency – areas where spending can be redirected from infrastructure to programs that better engage citizens. Few arenas afford more opportunities for these kinds of shifts than the data centre.

Frankfurt am Main is currently Germany’s fifth largest city, but it has big ambitions. In its quest to become one of Europe’s most modern city, Frankfurt am Main is eager to consolidate IT infrastructure and services, as a means of reducing costs.

Until recently, the city had 62 IT agencies operating independently of one another -- one for each of the city’s different departments. In 2012, the city launched a new consolidated data centre and used it to consolidate the assets of 15 of those agencies, reducing costs and process redundancies. The city estimates that once the centralisation process is complete, it will reduce the city’s software costs by as much as half.

To get the transformation started on the right foot, the city looked to Microsoft to configure its new centre with modern software and develop its standard operating practices. Microsoft helped the company set up its data centres to minimise downtime, while automating software deployments and updates. Avanade, a Microsoft Partner Network member, helped the city develop an e-government master plan, and helped design an architecture that would allow all city applications could talk to one another.

“We have streamlined processes, eliminated redundancies, and achieved economies of scale,” said Klaus-Dieter Altschaffner, Director, Principles and Contact Issues Section, Department of Information and Communications Engineering, for Frankfurt am Main. “With the global recession, we’ve had to make do with our existing staff for several years. Having more modern IT capabilities built around Microsoft software helps all departments work more efficiently so that the city can do more with existing staff.”

But the data centre shift isn’t just about saving money. It’s also about improving citizen services. Having a more centralised data structure makes it easier for the city to develop new e-government services. The new system is more reliable and easier to develop applications with. Citizen services representatives now have an easier time finding answers to pressing citizen questions in a timely fashion. The new system is more reliable and easier to develop applications with. It can also improve accuracy, since centralisation reduces the likelihood that one question will turn up multiple answers from different sources.

Frankfurt am Main is a great example of how a change in the right place can make everything a local government does more efficient and effective. Learn more about Microsoft CityNext to hear more stories of cities who are making similar transformations. How will your city transform to meet the challenges of tomorrow?

Read more about the story of Frankfurt am Main.