About the event

The sun of “smart cities” rose in Vladivostok

On May 23, ComNews Group held a business forum “Smart City & Region: Digital Technologies Paving Way to a Smart Country” in Vladivostok. This was the second event from a series of business forums on this subject organized by ComNews in 2019 across 8 different regions of Russia.

The forum in Vladivostok gathered over 130 officials from regional and municipal executive and legislative government bodies of the Far Eastern Federal District, government institutions, federal communication service providers, IT companies, power distribution and other utilities, vendors of ICT solutions, system integrators, developers of digital services and regional media.

Strategic Partner of ‘Smart City & Region’ in Vladivostok was PJSC MegaFon, while Gazprom Space Systems was Silver Sponsor, and Accent LLC was Session Sponsor.

The business forum was endorsed by the Center for Promotion of Entrepreneurship, the IT-Directors’ Club of the Far East, the International Academy of Communications, the National Association of house communications and information networks (NADIKS), RUSSOFT, international information and trade portal FortROS and over 20 industry media.

The plenary session of the business forum was dedicated to the conceptual development and scaling successful models of Smart Cities. Evgeniy Vekovshinin, Head of Software and Data Support of Vladivostok City Administration, presented a report “Vladivostok as Smart City: First outcomes and ideas for the future”. Irina Shapiro, Deputy Mayor of Khabarovsk spoke about approaches to development and implementation of Smart City projects in Khabarovsk. Andrey Levykin, MegaFon’s Director for Regional Development shared his opinion on ways and solutions to digitalize cities.

The discussion around the Smart City concept continued at the plenary discussion. Panelists included: Evgeniy Vekovshinin, Irina Shapiro, Andrey Levykin, Natalia Yakimovskaya – Head of Electronic Interaction Division, IT Department of Primorye region, and Evgeniy Golovachev, Head of IT Systems Division, IT Department of Primorye region.

Panelists discussed the opportunities opened by “Digital Economy” program for the development of municipal and regional infrastructure, stepped up requirements to the quality of urban environment, financing for digital initiatives, and the top requested Smart City/Smart Region initiatives, the first practical outcomes from the implementation of Smart City projects in the Far-Eastern Federal District, needs for cross-regional cooperation on the path to a Smart Country. Another topic discussed was opportunities Smart City and Smart Region projects open for telecom operators, so they can stop serving as merely a “pipe”; and how communication service providers can create custom solutions for Smart City / Smart Region.

The next session showcased solutions, which can be harnessed by Smart City. Yulia Babkina, Head of Customers’ Directorate of Gazprom Space Systems told the audience how state-of-the-art satellite technologies can help optimize costs. MegaFon’s Head of Sales, Digital Projects, Ruslan Aliev spoke about smart monitoring of a city’s traffic system using a hardware and software complex and digital innovations.  CEO of Accent Alexander Voznesenskiy dedicated his presentation to Smart City technologies, offered by partner of this system integrator from the Far East of Russia – Huawei. Alena Medvedeva, Project Manager of Far Eastern branch of Skolkovo, entitled her report: “Technological solutions aimed at enhancing security of cities and entire regions”.

After lunch, the session continued with more practical solutions for Smart City. Pavel Tkachenko, Business Development Manager in the Far East, Orange Business Services, spoke about his company’s experience in successfully implementing Smart Cities in Europe and the Middle East. CEO of White Soft Andrey Dymchenko delivered a report “Digital Platform “Golos” – first step on the path towards Smart City”. Ilya Mirin, Director of Digital Economy School of the Far Eastern Federal University, spoke about Smart City’s cyber security. Svetlana Divakova, Lead Lawyer from Verum Law Firm, looked into new opportunities for public-private partnerships, opened by Smart City.

The event concluded with a round table entitled “Best Practices: Identifying and Scaling the Best Regional Projects”, which was kicked off by General Director and Editor-in-Chief of ComNews Group Leonid Konik, who offered an analytical report “Smart City: each city is a unique case”.  

The discussion gathered Acting Deputy Governor of Primorye Territory Elena Parkhomenko and Acting Director of ICT Department of Primorye Administration Tatiana Potapova, Evgeniy Vekovshinin from the Vladivostok City Administration,  Ilya Mirin, Director of Digital Economy School of the Far Eastern Federal University, Andrey Dymchenko from White Soft, Svetlana Divakova from Verum Law Firm, and real estate expert Vladimir Kaplinskiy, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

Panelists discussed which Smart City applications have the highest efficiency potential, the barriers for municipalities and business when rolling out Smart City technologies, specifics and challenges of Smart City/Smart Region projects, plans for Smart City projects in the Far East of Russia, fund-raising opportunities for Smart City projects, including private capital, changes in legislation required to accelerate the implementation of Smart City and Smart Region projects, and also opportunities for public-private partnerships for the benefit of regions and cities (taking into account the recent modifications in the Federal Law 115 on concessionary agreements and Federal Law 224 on public-private partnerships, introduced in July 2018). Elena Parkhomenko pointed out that Smart City projects should satisfy existing social needs, and Tatiana Potapova invited the business community to cooperate with the government and voice their proposals, including when it comes to legislative amendments.

The forum demonstrated that one of the topical issues for Russian municipalities and regions is raising funds for Smart City and Smart Region projects. Having little expectations when it comes to federal co-financing, most regions realize that financing for the projects will be their own job. At the same time, few municipal budgets can afford to make large spending into Smart City / Smart Region projects, so government officials are very interested in the opportunities for raising private financing, particularly, through public-private partnerships and concessions. For businesses, their expenditure in such projects may be covered through facilities generated (saved) as a result of such joint project, whether it’s an energy service agreement or a leasing deal. Another way for the local authorities to pay businesses is not with money, but with municipal data.  

According to forum participants, the most sought-after elements of Smart City are: video surveillance (it helps to push down the number of road accidents and crime rates), public transport monitoring and single pay cards, and digital municipal services.

Smart City & Region in Vladivostok highlighted a critical need for exchanging opinions, approaches and best practices of Smart City among different regions and cities – such idea was voiced by government representatives from Primorye Territory, Khabarovsk Territory, and the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. The next Smart City & Region event will be organized by ComNews Group on June 14 in Sochi, followed by Sevastopol (September 26), Yekaterinburg (October 31), Kazan (November 14), and Novosibirsk (November 28). The series will conclude with the final event in Moscow on December 5.