A digital transformation is key to any city’s development
Two years ago, Moscow launched the Digital Business Space – a multi-purpose platform for entrepreneurs engaged in the development of digital technologies. The emergence of this center in a city that often implements new technologies and IT solutions is, of course, no accident. A digital revolution has long been underway in Moscow, and it has impacted all new spheres of the Russian capital’s life.
New management model
The Moscow government has been working on implementing the Smart City program since 2010. In nine years, the capital has erected an advanced IT infrastructure that enables the implementation of high-tech solutions and services across various spheres of the city’s economy. E-services have become more accessible. The capital’s 4G coverage area has now reached 99 percent. At the same time, mobile internet costs just one third of the price tag in London and New York.
92 percent of Muscovites support the implementation of tech solutions. According to them, digital technologies improve people’s quality of life. Last year, Moscow placed first among all cities in the world on the UN’s rating of e-government development levels.
A digital transformation is key to any city’s development. It is a must for cities that want to avoid losing people, investments, and their future. This was Sergey Sobyanin’s message during the plenary session called “Transformation in a quickly-changing world: states, companies, people,” which took place during this summer’s Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
According to Sergey Sobyanin, a digital transformation must cover different spheres, and information technologies have to be widely used in housing and utilities services, healthcare, education, and other aspects of city life.
“It’s impossible to focus on just one area. You either develop the city competently across all spheres, or sooner or later lopsided development will lead to serious damage,” the Mayor of Moscow said. According to him, one great example of a successfully implemented IT solution can already be found in the sphere of city transport management. The capital has launched an intelligent transport system, which is based on artificial intelligence, big data, and a large number of information flows. Billions of dollars were spent on its development and installation, but the results have shown it was worth it. This intelligent system has improved traffic in Moscow by 15 percent. For comparison’s sake, if the city had decided to resolve the problem of traffic congestion by building new roads and interchanges, it would have cost the city around a trillion rubles.
The city is also building new roads, opening new metro stations, constructing new railway lines, and adding more trains in order to improve traffic congestion, but there is no way around using an intelligent transport system these days – it’s the most efficient investment.
IT solutions have also been successfully implemented in healthcare and education, making the sphere of government services more accessible. For example, parents can sign their children up for kindergarten without leaving the house now. Moreover, it’s become easier for Muscovites to schedule doctor’s appointments. For example, people used to have to sign up 5-7 days in advance for a health checkup, and the city would have had to increase the number of hospitals by five times in order to reduce the number to one day. Once the Integrated Medical Information Analytical System was introduced, the wait time was reduced to one day with the same number of doctors and clinics.
So many people in the capital access e-services every day that they could form a line that would stretch for one thousand kilometers. “If we had not implemented this, we would have a line from Moscow to Kaliningrad,” Sergey Sobyanin clarified. According to Sberbank’s President and Chairman of the Board Herman Gref, who took part in the same plenary session at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, Moscow’s model is a completely new model of government.
Information technologies help to better understand the preferences of city residents, as well as to get support across a wide range of issues. According to Sergey Sobyanin, electronic democracy is a key element of a smart city. “In a city of 12 million, asking people what they want and understanding their attitudes toward specific issues and projects is almost impossible,” the Mayor of Moscow said.
He pointed out, however, that Moscow already has all the tools necessary to make this happen.
“This includes the ‘My City’ system, through which around two million people report problems in the city every day, every minute, every second. It also includes the ‘Active Citizen’ system, which a large number of people use to express their opinions about different projects and let the government know what they really want,” Sergey Sobyanin added.
Among global leaders
It should come as no surprise that three years ago Moscow became one of the global leaders in the implementation of a concept called Data Driven City (DDC) – the introduction of information technologies that boost the efficiency of city management.
According to the international professional service company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Moscow’s accomplishments in IT are on par with tech leaders like New York, London, Barcelona, and Sydney in terms of the nature and scale of the implemented solutions. This fact is also mentioned in the “Data Driven Cities” report, which covers DDC concept implementation across 28 of the world’s largest cities.
A Data Driven City (DDC) is the concept of using large amounts of data for the stable development of modern cities. Thanks to advanced digital technologies, information can be processed directly in real time, with leads to faster and better decision-making.
Experts have pointed out that Moscow is actively implementing modern tech solutions across the majority of city government spheres. The most effective changes have been the ones implemented in the spheres of transport, security, and healthcare management. The city also has projects that are unique in terms of their scale – “Active Citizen,” ‘Our City,” and the Integrated Medical Information Analytical System.
The data analysis projects with the most potential are the ones implemented in the sphere of municipal services.
Moscow is in the process of installing automatic metering systems for water and electricity. For the most part, this is happening in buildings that are currently under construction.
Smart technologies have become an effective tool for monitoring municipal services. The installation of GLONASS systems on over 11,000 units of municipal technology enables the city to unscrupulous contractors, while photo and video recording systems reveal unauthorized landfills.
Another example of how advanced technologies are used in the sphere of municipal services is the Automated Violation Detection Center. There are currently around 170,000 cameras installed throughout Moscow to monitor 7,300 road sections. In the future, the Automated Violation Detection Center and the GLONASS-based Municipal Services Automation System will be integrated into one system.
City residents can voice their opinions about various issues through the “Active Citizen” online voting system. The platform, which was launched in 2014, already has around two million registered users. This is the highest metric among all cities assessed by PricewaterhouseCoopers in their report. For comparison’s sake, London’s platform “Talk London” only has around 20,000 registered users.
The results of different referendums on the “Active Citizen” platform has prompted the launch of over a dozen new bus routes throughout the city. The system was also used to select the designs for the “Solntsevo” and “Novoperedelkino” metro stations, narrow down the list of streets for the “My Street” city improvement projects, and make other decisions.
In the biggest referendum held on the e-voting platform, 500,000 Muscovites took part in setting summer vacation days for schools throughout the city. The “Active Citizen” platform has received nine prestegious Russian and international awards.
“Our City” and Moscow’s Public Services Platform
The “Our City” portal, which was launched in 2011, gave Muscovites the opportunity to participate directly in city government. City residents can use it to quickly report a specific problem to the appropriate authorities.
The portal, which contains information about 118,000 city infrastructure facilities, has already helped to resolve over a million issues in the city. Since the project’s launch, the number of people using the website has increased significantly: by 2015, every 20th person in Moscow was using “Our City” – about 600,000 users.
The Public Services Platform, which has been operating in Moscow since 2010, has increased transparency for public services in the city. People can use it to access various government and municipal services: obtain approval to relist residential property as commercial, get parking permits, sign up their children for kindergartens or clubs, put money on their child’s school card, sign up for a state auto inspection, and much more.
There are a total of 132 services available in electronic format, and this list is constantly growing. By the end of 2015, the number of website users had reached fine million people, with 250,000 daily visitors.
EMIAS in Moscow
Moscow was the only city in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report to have a fully integrated hospital management system. Today, over 660 healthcare establishments and over 21,000 healthcare professionals are registered on Moscow’s Integrated Medical Information and Analytical System.
The project was launched in 2011 by the Moscow Department of Information Technology and Department of Healthcare. It’s one of the most prominent examples of how information technology can be implemented in healthcare. The governments of many other major world capitals are only now discussing implementing solutions like this.
EMIAS contains integrated outpatient medical records for city residents, enables staff to manage patient flows, and keeps personalized medical records. The system’s users can enter their address to find a nearby hospital, sign up for a doctor’s appointment online, reschedule an appointment, get a medical report, and much more. The system collects and analyzes data about patient visits to the city’s healthcare establishments, including demand for specific professionals, their availability, and wait times for appointments.
In the beginning of August, the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin tasked the authorities with completing the digitalization of the city’s X-ray diagnostics service and connect all the equipment to an integrated X-ray information center, which will store all medical images taken in Moscow’s hospitals and clinics in a cloud.
Moscow has situation centers to analyze city traffic. The capital’s authorities also keep track of parking availability and use mobile operator data to collect information about traffic flows throughout the city. This data is then used to launch new transportation routes.
In some districts, smart street signs show information about traffic congestion to drivers in real time.
Moscow uses an integrated payment system for public transport throughout the city. The Troika card, which is used to pay for almost half of all rides on the metro and above-ground transport, has yielded a 70% reduction in the time it takes passengers to get on and off transport. The city is constantly expanding the list of services Troika cards can purchase – people can use it to buy tickets to the zoo, the planetarium, and skating rinks in major parks.
Over half of all traffic violations in Moscow are registered in electronic format. The “Mobile Officer” project cut the time it takes to document an accident by 20-25 minutes, as well as improve traffic congestion and make traffic patrol officers more effective.
According to experts, smart traffic lights and automatic traffic incident notification systems have a lot of potential, and will continue to become more effective over time.
According to experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Moscow is currently in the top ten best cities in the world in terms of education quality.
This is in many ways due to the establishment of the “Moscow e-school,” which features contributions by IT companies, entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized businesses. Today, the “Moscow e-school” library is open to all instructors in Russia and all over the globe.
Security and the environment
Video cameras also ensure security in Moscow – the city has implemented one of the most advanced and large-scale video surveillance systems in the world. 70 percent of all crimes committed in the city are detected and resolved with the help of surveillance cameras.
The city’s camera surveillance system also includes the “City Window” services, which gives people the opportunity to witness some of the most exciting events in the city. Launched in December 2014, “City Window” has already broadcast over two dozen events in the city, including Victory Day rehearsals and the Victory Day Parade itself, the “Immortal Regiment” march, “Night at the Museum,” graduation at Gorky Park, and the festivals “Our Product” and “Moscow Ice Cream.”
Moscow has an integrated automated environmental protection system. The environmental monitoring system controls for noise pollution, air quality, soil conditions, green space quality, and the quality of ground and surface water. The results are published in real-time on mosecom.ru, which is visited by over 30,000 people daily.
“In spite of these accomplishments in implementing smart city concepts, the Russian capital doesn’t plan to stop. We are going to continue our innovative development,” said Eduard Lysenko, Minister of the Government of Moscow and Head of the Department of Information Technologies of Moscow during his speech at the Geneva Smart City conference.
According to him, the city is implementing new technologies for the residents, and not for the sake of progress. The capital’s information systems help Muscovites resolve pressing problems, as well as make business more effective and competitive.
There was another impetus for the city’s digital transformation in the spring of last year, when the idea to create an innovation platform in Moscow emerged. President Vladimir Putin immediately supported the initiative, and signed a decree to establish an innovation cluster in Moscow on November 26, 2018.
The goal of the new cluster is to create favorable conditions for the manufacturers of advanced technology who are ready to focus on the export sector. It will feature a wide array of competencies and qualifications, promoting a constant exchange of ideas and knowledge between professionals working in different spheres. Essentially, this is the Silicon Valley of Russia.
Why was Moscow chosen as the location for a place like this? The establishment of a cluster is the most logical extension of the Moscow government’s policies, which aim to create an ecosystem of innovation in the capital. Today, it includes almost 20,000 innovative ecosystem facilities. Moreover, there are 719 research and development organizations in Moscow, along with 15,700 IT companies, 7,200 major high tech companies, almost 300 small innovative enterprises, engineering centers, and business incubators.
Moscow has a ton of potential in terms of science, human resources, and manufacturing capacities, and is in the top-50 most innovative cities in the world. The share of companies working in tech manufacturing and innovation is 15 percent.
So how much has happened one year after the President signed this decree?
The information platform for the capital’s innovation cluster has been prepared and will be launched in the nearest future. Sergey Sobyanin talked about the platform’s launch in mid-June, during the first meeting of the supervisory board for the “Moscow Innovation Cluster” Foundation. The meeting participants discussed the project’s potential and short-term goals.
According to Sergey Sobyanin, the entry process needs to be simplified for participants as much as possible. They need to have the opportunity to use all support tools available at both the federal and regional levels. “And this should definitely have an effect on the development of innovation in Moscow,” the Mayor of Moscow believes.
According to him, the establishment of a cluster is a very important project that entails the creation of a system that supports cooperation between the capital’s innovative enterprises. it will bring together IT companies, business incubators, technology parks, and the city’s academic institutions on one platform.
“The project should help develop the potential that exists in Moscow, taking into account the fact that participants will be better-informed, will cooperate with each other, and have an easier time finding both customers and contractors for innovative products,” Sergey Sobyanin said.
There are around 20,000 different innovative enterprises working in the capital, including research organizations, educational institutions, certification centers and trial laboratories, IT companies, and manufacturing enterprises. Moreover, 40 percent of all patents are registered in Moscow. The capital also accounts for 40 percent of turnover for research and development enterprises.
Of course, enormous potential like this requires attention and development. Over the past few years, Moscow has created a wide range of support tools for innovative business, from subsidies and tax benefits for this type of business to the establishment of a specialized infrastructure, such as the Skolkovo project, the science and tech valley at MSU, dozens of technology parks in Moscow, and a number of other specialized clusters and territories in the capital.