The programme of the ‘Invest in Russia with the RCBC — where trust is built’ started on 2 September with the session titled ‘Smart City vs Smart Region. An Integrated Approach to Digitalization’.
The opposition in the title is not accidental: the participants discussed two different approaches to digitalization of the Far East. The first approach is about developing new services based on the current demand and opportunities of the city or the region. The second approach suggests the creation of a long-term complex infrastructure from scratch.
A vivid example of this approach is the Digital Primorye project which is being implemented at the moment in Primorye Territory as a PPP between the region, the Far East High Technology Fund, and VessoLink.
«An increased demand for high-quality state services makes the city agencies be customer-centred and requires totally new digital services,» says Ruslan Sarkisov, CEO of Far East High Technology Fund. At the same time, he noted that limited budgeting has brought some Far Eastern cities and regions to a standstill, and they have to use ‘patchwork’ services, buy systems from multiple vendors which don’t go well with one another. The Digital Primorye project provides a digital infrastructure and a management system that integrates 30 applications for housing and public utilities, transport, security, education, and tourism. The investment in the project will make RUB 3.5 billion in the first year, with additional RUB 2 billion in the future.
«We are a fund that joins projects at the earliest stages to share the risks with the investors. We also act as a regional partner helping business deal with administrative issues,» notes Ruslan Sarkisov describing the role of the Fund in the project.
Chair of the Board of Directors of VessoLink Oleg Badera thinks that the project has two development area: improving services for local residents and making it more attractive for outside investors, using to new tourist services in particular. «Public-private partnership provides a significant and quick effect. Many residents will feel it literally in a year when they start to use the new services. It is important for us to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people,» notes Oleg Badera.
Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Sakhalin Region Vyacheslav Alenkov and Minister of Innovations, Digital Development and Communication Technologies of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Anatoly Semyonov shared their experience in designing digital networks.
«Digitalization through PPP is the right way to do things as it helps build a significant system in the region while spreading the expenses more evenly,» comments Vyacheslav Alenkov. «We are interested in this comprehensive approach. This is experience that we want to use here. It turns out to be the only way to improve digital transformation performance for some regions».
Anatoly Semyonov, in his turn, talks about a positive experience in attracting local business and the youth to creating digital services. «To me, a smart city is first of all smart people. Our young people are very smart and active. Everything here is driven by ‘pain’. Whenever a pain develops, they fix it». As a result, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is one of the digital leaders in the Far East, and the products of local IT companies are widely used beyond the region.
To sum up the discussion, Deputy Director of the Department for Investment Development of the Far East and the Arctic Denis Yudin noted that digitalization requires a modern effective infrastructure, and a concession mechanism is a fast way to build it.
The discussion was moderated by Director, Tax and legal, KPMG in the CIS Olga Surikova.