This Wednesday Microsoft signed an agreement with Charlotte, North Carolina, to help upgrade the city’s technology to a Smart City.

As part of the 3-year alliance, Microsoft will help the city gather data and analyse data and offer technology such as smart buses and smart lighting and allow public services to talk to one another and collaborate more easily.

“One way to make sure we are a city of the future is using data and analytics,” said Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones. “It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Five pilot programs will launch by the end of the year, which will leverage technology and education to benefit residents, businesses and entrepreneurs.

The Smart City initiative include smart transit systems, public Wi-Fi connectivity, skills and training, public safety infrastructure and safer neighbourhoods, according to the city officials.

“Technical intensity (is) this belief that the digital transformation of industry and society is going to require that every business and every organization and yes, community, become a digital one,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “In this case, that means modernizing to become a smart city to serve the people of Charlotte more effectively.”

The work is expected to have several positive knock-on effects, including creating new career paths and helping to bridge the digital divide.

Microsoft has earlier partnered with Houston in Texas with the same mission and in January Microsoft announced a massive $500 million investment over the next three years to tackle the affordable housing crisis in Puget Sound area, showing an increasing interest in civic matters.