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More Smart Cities to Appear in Russia

The best world and domestic practices in the field of adoption of Smart City technology were discussed during the final day of the 8th Gaidar Forum “Russia and the World: Setting Priorities.” Participants of the expert discussion “Smart Cities: Opportunities to Improve the Population’s Quality of Life and Solve Infrastructural Problems of Russian Cities” told about tools to solve relevant tasks and remove barriers that hinder their implementation in Russia.

Anna Makarova, Director of Change Management Practice at Alliance Consulting within ACIG Group of Companies, and Maksim Ageev, Director of Global Directorate for Services in Energy and Sustainable Development at Schneider Electric, acted as moderators of the discussion about the impact of innovative technologies on the urban population’s quality of life.

Experts of the global business community and representatives from the Russian regions discussed benefits of innovative technologies in urban infrastructure. “The main purpose of today's meeting is to exchange working practices for the adoption of Smart City technology,” Maksim Ageev said at the beginning of the discussion. Each of us has already faced with the adoption of such projects in our country. We will focus on factors that prevent our cities from becoming more ‘smart’, as well as how to apply the experience of foreign colleagues in Russia today. According to the head of the Center for Urban Studies at Skolkovo Business School Kseniya Mokrushina, the implementation of Smart City technology is a constant process. “The specifics is determined by each city personally”. She also added that the main funding sources of smart cities are private investments, including those that relate to projects of public-private partnerships, crowdfunding, as well as joint ventures, regional and municipal funds and the return of tax financing – the new areas that are still unavailable in Russia. “The main challenge is to build a new business model and financing mechanisms,” she underlines.

The issue of investment prospects in Smart City projects was raised several times during the meeting. Farooq Mahmud, Chairman and Managing Director at Silverline Group, shared his experience of implementing the Smart City concept in India. It is planned to create 100 smart cities in India by 2024. According to preliminary estimates, over $60 billion will be invested in the basic infrastructure of the country. "It is planned to create satellite towns with large centers and industrial corridors, not a smart city from scratch,” he stresses. The key goals of these programs are to provide security, develop logistics, as well as fill gaps in the environmental field.

Authorized representatives of the regional governments shared their opinion about ‘smartization’ of Russian cities. Svetlana Openysheva, Advisor to the Governor of the Ulyanovsk Oblast, Director at IT Development Corporation, commented on the extrapolation of the Smart City concept to a smart region. According to her, the strategy for 2017–2030 involves the development of smart cities in the region. The construction of the Santor project on the territory of Ulyanovsk contains obligatory requirements for the implementation of the Smart City projects.” “We intend to combine approaches with modern technology in order to solve the existing problems of the city and create smart cities from scratch,” the speaker points out. Oleg Polumordvinov, Head of Administration of Municipal Entity “The City of Astrakhan” told about changes in the electric lightning of urban territories. "We have cooperated with major technology companies for more than two years to invent intelligent lighting systems. More than 24,000 street lights with sensor control have already been installed. It is extremely important for global reconstruction projects to attract and involve the public,” the speaker says.

The assessment of risks was one of the key topics of the discussion on implementing Smart City projects. According to moderator Anna Makarova, technological solutions are useful, as they increase the efficiency of costs, processes, productivity, reduce costs and attract new financial resources for further investments. “These are long-term and comprehensive projects. Many countries faced the problem of their implementation due to the complexity of the organizational process. The main goal is to arouse interest and technologize actions of a large number of participants – regulatory bodies, management companies, vendors, investors and non-governmental organizations,” the expert adds. Head of Critical Infrastructure Protection at Kaspersky Lab Andrey Suvorov told about risks of cyber physical Smart City technology. "We have stepped into the era in which information is received from physical systems and used to make decisions. Meanwhile, it is easy to ‘deceive’ Smart City technology. In particular, popular Kiosk alike apps are extremely vulnerable. It means that malicious users can receive access and easily manipulate the system,” he underlines.

In conclusion, the meeting participants underlined the necessity for active adoption of Smart City technology in Russia. The experience of foreign countries says that the use of innovative technologies in urban infrastructure not only improves the population’s quality of life, but also helps to work out a comprehensive strategy of urbanization with the latest technical developments.