We recently caught up with Andrey Belozerov, Strategy and Innovations Advisor to CIO of Moscow, Moscow IT Department who spoke at an event last week held in Dublin at 2018 Harvard Innovation Accelerator: Smart Cities Europe.  Thanks to Andrey for giving us his time.

Image courtesy of Cities Today

What did you be talk about at the event? 

 My speech was mainly dedicated to Moscow achievements in creating the so called “smart districts” and scaling up this project. Our final goal is to spread smart districts all over the city area.

Therefore in 2017 we have launched Moscow Renovation programme which is currently planned till 2032. The program implied demolition of old residential houses and creating new modern buildings instead – fully at state expense.

Before launch of the project we asked residents of the houses included into the renovation program to vote either FOR or AGAINST the project. Over 1 million citizens took part in the voting and 40 percent of them expressed their opinion via Active Citizen online voting platform, based on blockchain technology. Moscow is the first city worldwide which has implemented blockchain in e-voting on such a large scale. So everyone can monitor polls in real time, examine the timeline when votes are casted and verify the authencity of results.

The whole renovation program will be executed by 2032, when in total 5.144 buildings will be dismantled which accounts for 15% of Moscow housing stock in general. Quite a number, isn’t it?

So, again, the main idea behind this initiative is to create as many smart houses as possible. By smart houses and smart districts, I, first of all, mean executing new standards developed by Moscow IT Department. These standards are based on the principles of IoT and absolute interconnection of infrastructural elements, not to mention smart lightening, 5G, eco-friendly technologies (e.g. charges for electric vehicles), resource consumption monitoring, smart metering system, centralized CCTV system and so on. The new standards are currently submitted for the approval of the Mayor of Moscow.

What updates can you release ahead of time of upcoming events or products?

 In collaboration with telecom providers we are now working on the implementation of 5G technologies. We are aimed to run a pilot of 5G in different zones across Moscow during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Currently the 4G + (LTE Advance) generation networks are used in Moscow, covering 97% of the city’s area.

We do also practice integrating machine learning and AI technologies in different spheres like: healthcare, education, infrastructure, traffic system and others.

For example, Data Analysis Center of Moscow IT Department has launched a brand new technology called RadIO that detects early lung cancer with an extremely high accuracy rate compared to the doctors’ diagnostics and also made it publicly available on GitHub to support doctors all over the world in early cancer detection. We have trained the neural networks to detect lung cancer by accessing CT scan images. Now any patient, cancer research center or hospital can load an image or a dataset of images and get a neural network prediction. In order to further train the neural network, Moscow Center of Radiology has provided Data Analysis Center with 5,000 anonymized CT scans, which contain overall 15,000 occurring tumors. And this is just the beginning!

What changes do you feel is needed to implement a better quality of life within a Smart City?

Well, to start with, a smart city itself implies improving the quality of life of its residents and guests. It is a fundamental basis and an idea behind creating such a city. Introducing top technical solutions and applying innovative approach amidst global digitalization should be one of the key drivers when building a smart city.

It is also important to understand that any city is unique with its different issues of ways of solving those, though, clearly, we do keep up to date with other smart cities while integrating smart city solutions and are ready to share the experience of our best practices.

Building a smart city, it’s crucial to build a dialogue with its citizens. There always should be a dialog established on a firm permanent basis between the city administration and the city residents.

Therefore here in Moscow we have created several platforms to engage with our citizens. One of them is The Active Citizen e-voting platform which allows citizens to vote on various areas of city life, such as transport, culture, urban development, healthcare and others. Over 2 million citizens have already participated in over 3,400 votings and thus directly influenced the urban transformation of the city they live in.

For example, within “My Street” redevelopment project over 500,000 citizens participated in the citywide e-voting and as a result 233 streets, squares, embankments were redeveloped and 2,600 historical buildings were renovated. Such a large-scale citizen engagement resulted in the fact that 87 per cent of residents were completely satisfied with the redevelopment results.

What are your plans for 2018? 

We will keep working within our Smart City Strategy; developing our existing projects and introducing new ones.

For instance, one of our initiatives is a unified cloud-based educational platform – Moscow Online School. By the end of 2018 all Moscow schools will join the project. So the cloud-based educational platform is to connect over 980,000 pupils, 65,000 teachers and 750 schools.

The educational platform is accessible for teachers, pupils and parents from any part of the city via any desktop or mobile device. It has already aggregated 800,000 units of textbooks, assignments, tests, presentations, videos and lesson scenarios. Interactive learning tasks boost children interest, while gamification aspect makes education process more engaging.

Throughout the next few years Moscow will invest $300 million in e-learning. We are to provide each classroom with individual Wi-Fi hotspots and laptops, while traditional whiteboards will be substituted by multi-touch interactive 4K panels. Further implementation of VR and AR technologies in schools is planned as well.

Empowered by modern hardware, digital interactive content makes traditional school classes much more dynamic. Teachers could monitor academic progress of each kid, create customized learning tracks and adapt materials to the needs of specific class level based on their academic performance, assign individual homework and additional lessons.

The first results of Moscow Online School are really impressive: during the pilot project Moscow authorities have indicated 15% growth of academic progress in the schools participating in the experiment. Besides, analytics and data-driven management provided by the unified system resulted in 88% administrative cost savings. Noteworthy is the fact that the average weight of pupil’s backpack fell by half.

How was 2017, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

Moscow became the first city to implement blockchain in e-voting as we believe that a blockchain-based system will bring remarkable change into digital voting process in Moscow. Prior to implementation of blockchain the votes were listed on Active Citizen platform and users could examine the results through the website announcements only. Through blockchain every vote in Active Citizen will become a smart contract which is publicly viewable and transparent. It will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote was casted so there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.

Another thing to be proud of is completing Moscow My Street project which is the world’s largest urban redevelopment project. In 2014, a research team analyzed density of population, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the efficiency of public transport routes, using big data and data modeling we started turning Moscow in a much more citizen-oriented city.  And we are glad to claim that My Street redevelopment program has resulted in extremely positive transformation of the city. One of the architectural masterpieces within the project is Zaryadye Park developed by international consortium of architects. Due to its unusual urban construction it has attracted a lot of attention internationally, it is recognized worldwide, for instance, Zaryadye became the best project in Visitor Attraction category in InAVation AWARDS 2018 international contest.

How can people find out more about what you are working on? 

As I have previously said, we are very open for a dialog with citizens and other city stake holders remaining transparent while keeping our citizens updates with our initiatives and results.

In 2011 we have started implementing Information City strategy (now called Smart City Moscow). The strategic plan of the city transformation is developed till 2019. The key elements of the program, its timeline and budget are absolutely transparent and available for every citizen

Besides Moscow is a pioneer in massive citizen engagement. Main platforms where our initiatives are being proposed, problems discussed and results demonstrated are:

  • OUR CITY – an online platform for problem reporting with over 1 million of users and over 2 million resolved problem issues
  • ACTIVE CITIZEN – e-voting platform and a mobile application for that allows Muscovites to take part in the city transformation by participating in votings and completing surveys in regards to the capital’s development.
  • MOS.RU – a crowdsourcing platform that gathers offering their innovative ideas to the Moscow government, comment on and discuss them, refine and choose the best.

Apart from that, we are widely presented in social networks, feel free to follow us and keep up with the latest news!


@elTuzmukhametov – Head of Smart City Lab at Department of IT of Moscow – https://twitter.com/eltuzmukhametov
@AndreyBelozerov – Strategy and Innovations Advisor to CIO of Moscow IT Department – https://twitter.com/andreybelozerov?lang=en

SmartCity Moscow – https://www.linkedin.com/in/smartcity-moscow-298424152/
Eldar Tuzmukhametov – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tuzmukhametov/
Andrey Belozerovhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/andrey-belozerov/

SmartCity Moscow – https://medium.com/smart-city-moscow
Eldar Tuzmukhametov – https://medium.com/@elTuzmukhamedov
Andrey Belozerov – https://medium.com/@AndreyBelozerov

Anything else you’d like to add?
Just to sum up, I believe that a lot has been done and even more has to be done on the way of building a true smart city. And I think that in order to boost further development of smart city technologies, global society involved in this process should gather its knowledge and expertise, as working in collaboration while exchanging international experience can stimulate further discoveries in the field of innovative urban planning. Thank you!

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