Moscow as a Smart City

New Book: The Governance of Smart Transportation Systems
August 16, 2018

Abstract

In June 2018 McKinsey published a report “Smart Cities: Digital Solutions for a More Livable Future” where Moscow was mentioned as one of the top-50 smart cities [1]. It caused a lot of excitement from the governmental side, but this information did not come as a surprise. Moscow has been developing the smart city strategy and implementing the smart solution since the year 2011. This case study shows the solutions implemented in such areas as transportation, wireless connectivity, social sphere, healthcare and education, the strategies of development and the problems tackled. The intensive ‘smartization’ would not have been possible unless there was an access to the data collected from the urban environment; it influenced the development of various applications providing smart solutions and encouraged the citizens’ participation in the urban life.

Keywords: smart city, Moscow, solutions, citizen engagement, participation, technology

Objective

The main objective of the case study is to describe the strategy of the city of Moscow on the implementation of the smart technologies in the urban environment as well as to see which ones had the biggest influence on the development of the city life.

Goals

The goals of the case study are:

  • The analysis of the data layer in the smart city project;
  • The analysis of the connectivity – the wireless coverage;
  • The analysis of the transport system;
  • The citizen engagement and interaction (social smartness);
  • The analysis of the healthcare system;
  • The analysis of the educational system;
  • The analysis of the correlations between the systems and the most influential factors.

Methods

The case study relies mostly on the observation method. Therefore, the articles and the materials from the official state websites and media services as well as from the applications and the web platforms related to them. In the majority of cases, the statistics is provided directly on the web platform as well as the terms and conditions of use and the functionality.

Introduction

In 2011 the initiative to create a cross-functional structure in Moscow was first introduced to the public. And in June 2018 the global management consultancy McKinsey announced that Moscow  is one of the 50 cities with the most developed smart technologies [1], [2]. The progress made during these 7 years would have been impossible without the proactive governmental position and the top-down approach provided by the state.

The main idea was to make a connected network out of the existing facilities to provide an easy  and comfortable access for the citizen, so that the system would have the advantage of an increased interoperability and connectivity in the city. The IT budget for the project amounted to $600 million from the government and $450 million from the private investors. The objective has been to connect all the existing city facilities into one interconnected system – the city administration, the educational institutions, security services, transport system  and  the healthcare institutions. In  a city with the population of 12.5 million people, it seems like a difficult yet vital problem to solve to achieve the economic sustainability. Therefore, for the last seven years all the spheres mentioned above have been evolving with the support from the state and a little investment from the non- governmental organizations (NGO)[3], [4].

Open Data Portal

In 2013 the data.mos.ru website was launched [5]. This platform has the data regarding around 2 million objects of the city infrastructure: sports, educational, healthcare, key cultural places and points of interest. The data is represented in two ways: the cartographic and table data representation for the citizen and the datasets for the developers, since the website has an easily accessible API. The number of datasets is over 830 – which is 33% more than in the city of Berlin. The data is regularly renewed – ranging from everyday renewal to the annual – depending on the dataset.

The data is used in such apps as EMIAS – the smart healthcare system, The Active Citizen, Moscow Electronic School – the smart educational system, Yandex.Taxi, Yandex.Transport, Moscow Helper – the smart transport applications, SportCity – the application controlling the  sport infrastructure. It helps the developers and the businesses to analyze how the city functions, how to make it more efficient as well as to predict the possible outcomes based on the existing data.

Wireless networks

Current situation

One of the key factors in the development of a smart city is the connectivity between its elements. Wireless Internet is a way to connect the citizen so that the communication between them would be more convenient, therefore, the actions will become more coordinated. The city of Moscow created several wireless networks two of which (Moscow_WiFi_Free and Dom-Ru Wi-Fi) cover the whole city center (Garden  Ring is the boundary) and one more (MT Free Wi-Fi) functioning  in all the means of public transportation (the underground, the tram system, the bus system, the trolleybus system). The Moscow Wi-Fi Free (launched in 2012) was initially intended to cover the leisure areas only, such as parks and the main squares, however, by 2016 it extended into one of  the largest wireless networks in Europe. The number of hotspots reaches 8500, all installed in 24 parks and more than 200 streets of the city centre with the 50 m radius [6].

The MT WiFi covers the whole underground area, which was achieved by laying 880 km of optic cable along 330 km of metro tunnels and by installing over 900 base stations transmitting the radio signal. All the underground carriages were enhanced with the WiFi routers that receive the signal

 

from the base stations, transmitting it to the users reaching the internet speed of 150 Mbit/s with the bandwidth capacity of 20 Gb [7].

Problems

One of the main difficulties was the shape of the tunnels (various curves) and their materials that created extra difficulties for the signal transmission. Disassembling of the trains sometimes results in of routers from different wagons connected in one train, which requires smart management maintenance systems.

Monetization of the service is another issue. Mostly the city wireless networks sustain on the advertisement that uses target and context advertising, which allows to eliminate the time limit per session. For example, during the FIFA 2018 the vast majority of advertisements targeted at the visitors promoted the local entertainment places and cuisine in football context, while later on it concentrated the users’ attention on the everyday products again. So advertising along with the placement of the partners’ content is the primary source of income which does seem to sustain   the whole network since there are more than 1 million of users per day, approximately 50% of whom access more than once a day [8].

Strategies

Currently the ideas of implementing the Li-Fi (transmission of data via light waves), LPWAN (low- power wide-area network for establishing the communication between the things at a low bit rate) and NB-IoT (also a type of LPWAN, the one that implies the indoor coverage with the advantages of low cost, long battery life and high connection density) are investigated in order to understand whether it is sufficient to use them in the city of Moscow.

The obligatory user authentication that can be done in two ways (phone number or passport data) enables the government to track people via the city street video surveillance and pass the data to the police structures as well as to track the geolocation of the public transport. These solutions are supposed to prevent crimes in the area or to investigate them in a more efficient and  smart way and to understand the transportation system in the city including the traffic problems, the distribution of the vehicles in the street space, informing the passengers and managing the existing issues in the most productive and the least time-consuming way. Moreover, due to the geolocation of the users of street Wi-Fi the data analysts were able to determine the places of the highest demands on wireless connection, so the government is planning to increase the efficiency of the network by producing the Wi-Fi according to the demand [9].

Transportation

Transportation system in Moscow was modified via the introduction of the Intelligent System of Transport Flow Management (the ISTFM) [10]. The system aims at unloading the street crossings and at the increasing of the transportation safety in the city. The ISTFM collects the traffic data using the video cameras installed in  the city, processes and analyses the collected data and takes  the measures on the normalization and optimization of the traffic in the automatic or semi- automatic way. According to the processed information the system creates a whole picture of the intensity of traffic in the city and analyses the situation on the overloaded street crossings.

For every street crossing, the system analyses the mean speed of the traffic, the number of vehicles crossing the street and the number of vehicles waiting to cross the street. Therefore, in case the crossing is overloaded, the system checks the adjacent crossings and manipulates the street lights   in a way that the traffic speed and density normalizes. The ISTFM has the road and building repair works schedule as well, which gives a better opportunity to normalize the traffic. Moreover, it can find the narrow streets and analyse the traffic movement there in order to correct the street lights and signs. In case of weather anomalies or uncommon situations, the signal is sent to the road control department and the system starts working in the semi-automatic mode [11].

The central management centre analyses not only the information regarding the street crossings’ traffic but also the availability of the parking spaces in the parking lots and in the  paid parking areas in the streets and allows booking a parking place.

What’s more, the data is collected for each car individually as well: the colour, the type, the model, the serial number (which gives the access to all the personal data of the owner), so the cars can be tracked in real-time which might cause the privacy issues.

The system supports such features as traffic flow modelling according to the introduction of the new signs and street lights, easy access to the archived data, forecast of the load on the traffic network (taking into account the increment in the number of vehicles).

Community

Current situation

The community participation is encouraged by the government with the introduction of the smart urban platform ‘Active Citizen’ [12]. The number of users exceeds 2 million in 4 years of exploitation. The platform has several features such as the voting system on the important urban decisions taken in the city, the feedback system regarding the urban environment, the urban media platform that highlights the most important events organized by the municipality in Moscow. One of the most important features is the voting system allowing the citizens to decide how to organize their life. The questions discussed there vary from the ability to have a free medical check-up more often to the name of the new underground station and the appearance of their courtyard. It might also be the discussion on the state-level issues such as alcohol ban or the introduction of the high- class electric buses. The voting system is based on the blockchain technology, which makes it more transparent and trustworthy for the users. The node could be any registered user or even an organization – so even one of the most prestigious universities in Moscow represents one node in the system. The participation in the voting is encouraged by the bonus system which can give to a citizen several benefits including free entrance to the cinema during the summer, free access to the bike-sharing service, tickets to the notable events etc.

Moreover, the data on the voting issues – including the personal details of the electors is available on the open data portal of Moscow. It includes the gender, the district, the family state, the occupation, the age and other features that help to analyse the thoughts of the people relative to their characteristics.

After endless complaints from the citizens on the conservative system that does not allow for the proper communication between the neighbours, the municipality introduced the extension of the Active Citizen – the Electronic House [13]. The service provides the facility to make announcements, to vote on the transformations in the house among the owners and to schedule the interhouse meetings to discuss on the important matters. It is also possible to introduce the new initiative regarding the house and to put it under discussion for the flat-owners of the building.

The project has received multiple awards such as Prometheus 2017, Digital Communication AWARDS 2016, Digital Communication AWARDS 2015, SABRE Awards EMEA 2015 and others.

Another platform GOROD.MOS.RU aims at receiving the citizens’ feedback [14]. The website  has a complaint system that gives the opportunity to notify the municipal structures about the various city problems in different urban spaces (roads, public yards, parks, underground, public toilets, city markets, deployable structures etc.). After 4 years of functioning the number of 2 840 000 problems registered were solved, while 43 000 are currently under process.

Strategies

For the engagement of the users into the project the top-bottom approach is being used. The advertisements are put into the majority of the municipal structures including the schools, the kindergartens, the hospitals, the social security centres etc.  This allows to attract the users from  the very early age. What’s more, the project is advertised on the websites that are widespread and vital to get any kind of social service.

Most of the social development strategies involve the crowdsourcing [15]. The website crowd.mos.ru collects the initiatives from the citizen on the kinds of improvements they would  like to see present in their surroundings. So out of 90 000 ideas submitted 2700 have been chosen and 16 already realized. Those include the entertainment and leisure time services, the active aging program (aims at the increment of the lifetime and its quality for the people older than 60), containment of the wild animals in the city, ecological strategy, healthcare program [16] and others.

Healthcare

Since 2013 the EMIAS (United Medical and Analytical System of Moscow) system has been used  in the city. It is a complex information system with such services as appointment booking, electronic health record keeping and electronic prescribing. Currently it’s being used by about 8.9 million people involving over 600 organizations (mostly the municipal hospitals, dental clinics, female counselling centres, referral hospitals, early treatment centres) and 23000 employees in the process. The number of transactions amounted to 114.000.000 during the first year of exploitation [17].

The system was implemented in three steps. First goal was to make the whole appointment system completely electronic, so that people were able to schedule their visits to the specific doctors remotely – which solved the problem of the overcrowded clinics and long lines to the doctors’ offices. What’s more, the disabled people as well as those whose current state does not allow them to move around easily do not have to go to the clinic in order to get the appointment,  they are  able to book it without any extra effort that might affect their health. So the system keeps the information about the activity of all the specialists and gives an understanding about their proficiency and efficiency.

Second step consists of creating the electronic database of medical records for each patient, thus  all the medical history, treatments and drug prescriptions are shared all across the public health sector. The discounts and the free treatment for the special categories of people is also included into the database, which makes the prescription process more transparent and the drug acquisition system more reliable. This iteration allows to increase the efficiency of the patient’s treatment and reduce the bureaucratic problems as well as to improve the communication between the specialists and its speed.

The third step is currently under progress. It implies the process of uniting the public and the private medical sectors in terms of shared medical records and the appointment system.

The laboratory services were organized inside the EMIAS system in a way that every clinic has a laboratory that does not require the expensive technological equipment and high-qualified personnel to carry out the simple medical tests, while every district has a highly-equipped  laboratory that is correlated to all the small ones in the districts. The biological material is sent to the highly-equipped laboratory the same day it was taken from the patient. The cost of such a test in a highly-equipped lab is much lower than in the less equipped ones due to the reason that the test is run in an automated flow

Due to its large-scale implementation EMIAS solves such problems as the control of the flow of people, individual record keeping, feedback collection, consolidated management accounting system, pharmaceutical support, centralization of the lab facility and the ability to supervise the system’s workflow.

Education

The development of Electronic School is considered one of the most efficient improvements in  the smart city strategy of Moscow. The service was established in 2016 as a pilot project with only  6 schools participating. By September 2018, the number increased up to 780. The schools are equipped with the latest technological devices used for the educational process, such as multifunctional interactive panel board, the use of tablets instead of workbooks, the desks and chairs better suited for the learning process. Apart from the technical infrastructure, the cloud service was introduced into the system. The whole study program is available online as well as the templates for the lessons for teachers, the Electronic Journal with the home assignment for pupils, the electronic library with the access to all the necessary materials. So, not only does it reduce the time teachers spent on preparing the materials for the class, it also reduces the ecological impact (due to the little amount of paper, chalk and ink spent), the weight the children carry in the bag (thus the health issues such as back pain) and increases the control of the parent, since all the information on the school attendance, marks, notifications is instantly available. Moreover, the homework can be done via smartphone or a laptop – as well as the classwork – which increases  the opportunities for the children who were not able to attend the classes due to the health issues [18].

The problem of the eye stress has been resolved by the introduction of the non-flickering LCD displays whose brightness does not harm the eyes  of the kids and at the same time allows using  the devices with the natural light.

One more feature of the service is the activity control. The parents are able to see when the kid enters the school building – due to the smart pass system, the food he took for lunch or breakfast and to fill the kid’s card balance from the distance. Thus, children do not need to carry the cash with them since the smart pass has an option of acquiring the food with the card directly. What’s more, the safety of the school building increases due to the limited access provided for the card owners only.

To sum up, the academic performance of the pupils in the pilot schools increased by 15%, more than 17000 classes are fully equipped with the necessary technological infrastructure in 1800 schools of the city. The Electronic Journal – a service available in all the schools of the city – has    a total number of around 1.6 million users. The platform has 5000 educational applications, over 8000 tests and more than 100000 interactive lectures’ scenarios.

Conclusion

To sum up, Moscow has been integrating the smart solutions into the urban environment quite successfully so far. The services implemented increased the urban potential of the area as well as the efficiency of the city functioning. The rate of citizens’ engagement in the process of urban- decision-making is one of the crucial factors that determines the whole ‘smartization’ process since the people themselves are able to decide which facilities would be more useful for them at this particular time.

Moreover, the implementation of the smart technologies on different levels leads to the proactive positions in most of the areas, since everything is interconnected: children from the early age learn about the interactive platforms in the educational and healthcare systems, which helps them to adapt the other services more easily. For the adults the use of the integrated healthcare platform leads to habit of having the information in a digital format that similarly leads to an easy adjustment of the other facilities.

References

  • McKinsey Global Institute, Smart Cities: Digital Solutions For A More Livable Future, McKinsey&Company (2018).
  • Moscow as one of the smartest cities in the world. Eugeniy

URL: www.mos.ru/news/item/41342073/

  • Moscow as a Smart

URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nikolaikuznetsov/2017/11/15/moscow-is-on-its-way-to- becoming-a-smart-city-and-fintech-powerhouse/#237ea44f983d

  • Moscow as a Smart

URL: https://medium.com/smart-city-moscow

  • Moscow Open Data

URL: https://data.mos.ru/

Author: Stanislava Fedorova

  • WiFi

URL: https://www.mos.ru/en/news/item/26216073/

  • Technical characteristics of WiFi provision and

URL: https://www.mos.ru/news/item/14867073/

  • Intelligent System of Transport Flow Management URL: http://gucodd.ru/
  • ISTFM – the principles of functioning

URL: http://transport.mos.ru/#!/page/news/?id=22583

  • The Active Citizen

URL: https://ag.mos.ru/

  • The Electronic House

URL: https://ag.mos.ru/dom

  • mos.ru Project on citizens’ engagement.

URL: http://gorod.mos.ru/

  • Crowdsourcing Platform. URL: https://crowd.mos.ru/
  • Healthcare

URL: https://www.mos.ru/city/projects/dolgoletie/

  • EMIAS

URL: https://emias.info/

  • Moscow Electronical School

URL: https://www.mos.ru/city/projects/mesh/

Moscow City Platform. URL: https://www.mos.ru/

Moscow Integrated Services Platform. URL: https://www.gosuslugi.ru/

  1. E. Fulmer, What in the world is infrastructure?, Tech. rep., Investment Strategy (2009).
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