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From Bayou City to “Smart City”

Houston enters into partnership with Microsoft

On Friday May 4, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the city of Houston has entered into an Internet of Things alliance with Microsoft. In addition to providing education to promote technology, the alliance should help elevate the city as a prime location for businesses focused on innovation and technology.

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

The alliance will include the addition of sensors, data collection and other initiatives that will improve the flow of traffic throughout the city and create greater efficiencies within the city’s infrastructure. In addition, Internet of Things technology is expected to help the city cope and recover with disasters such as Hurricane Harvey by leveraging drones to “find people needing assistance or to determine areas that are flooded and impassable.” Issues such as traffic and storm impact were thought to be factors that may have led Amazon to not consider Houston.

In addition to the recently announced alliance with Microsoft, Houston is witnessing other technology developments with implications for the city’s business community. For example, Rice University has announced its plans to transform the former Sears building in Midtown into the hub of an “innovation district” that will include a “mix of commercial tech spaces, best-in-class infrastructure, entrepreneurial talent to foster innovation.”

With the expected rebound in oil and gas, the growth of technology will likely cause a spike in Houston commercial real estate activity beyond 2018. As always, Belvoir stands ready to keep its clients going places to take advantage of the new opportunities.

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