'Gold' standards of public services, communications coverage, 4bn worth of projects: Year of Digitalisation in Tatarstan

130 projects worth almost 4 billion rubles

The year 2022 in Tatarstan has been declared the Year of Digitalisation by the president of the republic, Rustam Minnikhanov. What awaits the region, what projects are going to be implemented, and what is their purpose — Minister of Digital Development of Public Administration, Information Technologies of Tatarstan Ayrat Khayrullin reported on 18 January. His department has a lot of plans and projects for this year, more than 130 projects have been prepared. In fact, digital technologies will affect almost every sphere of life of the four million population of Tatarstan. 3,8 billion rubles are to be allocated for the implementation of the plan — this is without taking into account the costs that will require the creation of a “digital quarter” in Kazan.

First of all, the region is going to eliminate digital inequality. By it, Ayirat Khayrullin means the absence of high-speed Internet, or as he called it, “optics” (fiber-optic communication), and even 4G mobile Internet in 624 villages, where population does not exceed 300 people.

“This year we are going to make 62, but if we do it at this rate, we will do it for 10 years. The issue is still unresolved, but we want to do it within three years, we are working with the federal centre to attract additional funding and cover 624 settlements with 4G for three years — 200 settlements annually," the minister said.

Besides, due to the special programme of Tattelecom, GPON, this year, more than 100 thousand households of various villages will have access to the Internet via fiber.

Finally, mobile operators intend to improve communication along the M7 highway, there are areas where not only mobile Internet, but even telephone communication is unavailable. During the year, about 1,000 base stations will be installed to solve the problem, and all federal roads, the speaker noted, will be 100% covered with cellular communications. Moreover, since this year, mobile operators are obliged to provide high-quality communications, according to license agreements, the minister stressed.

5G Internet may also appear on the territory of the Kazan Kremlin this year. When this will happen, and whether the project from MTS will become real, is still unclear, Khayrullin said:

“This is a question of seasonality, and, first of all, we must solve it with UNESCO, because you can't take something on the territory of the Kremlin and just put it there — it is a cultural heritage object. As for other public spaces, we are discussing such work, we will not get ahead of ourselves, but we hope that a number of iconic public spaces will be provided with a 5G network. There are issues related to investments and permits.”

In addition, more than 100 thousand residents of the republic will have the opportunity to participate in the digital transformation course absolutely free of charge, mastering the relevant and demanded digital professions in its framework. Students of several republican universities, such as KAI, KFU, KNRTU, Kazan Power Engineering University, will also have the opportunity to do this: for them, Khayrullin said, a special course will be organised that will allow them to get an additional, “digital” profession in addition to the main one. This, according to the head of the Ministry of Finance, “will allow them to be more professional in their field”.

The special project called Khikmet is intended for elderly residents of Tatarstan — within its framework, they will master computer literacy, and after training, even an olympiad will be held among the “students”.

Own digital product for ministries and departments

Even if this year had not been declared the Year of Digital Development, it would not have cancelled many projects of the Ministry of Finance, said Ayrat Khayrullin. In general, within 12 months, 130 events are going to be held not only in Kazan, but also in all municipalities of the republic — these are exhibitions, forums, conferences, contests for children, the opening of new spaces, the launch of projects and much more, the involvement in them, according to the estimates of the ministry, will amount to more than 20 million people. A large-scale IT event is planned to take place in Tatarstan almost every month. For example, in February, the children's Technopark opens in Kazan, which in the future will become part of the “digital quarter”, an All-Russian digital art festival is held in May, in November they want to launch a satellite assembled by Tatarstan schoolchildren into Earth orbit, and the grand opening of the Spartak IT Park is the finale of the Year of Digitalisation in December.

Besides, almost every ministry and department of the republic will receive its own digital product. For example, a number of mobile applications will be introduced for the Ministry of Education: for schoolchildren — to create a single student profile, and for teachers — the application will help them get rid of paperwork and devote more time to teaching children. Another 24 thousand teachers of Tatarstan schools will receive modern laptops this year instead of the old ones, which are already obsolete.

Among other things, more than a billion rubles will be invested in equipping rural schools of Tatarstan with wireless Internet access and creating all the necessary infrastructure for this. As Ayrat Khayrullin noted, the republic has become the first region in the Russian Federation where all schools are connected to high-speed fiber-optic network, but there is still no Wi-Fi in rural schools.

Big digital transformations await public services — both municipal and state ones: if 125 of their types were digitised last year, then 253 more are going to be transferred to electronic form this year, and the period for receiving some services is reduced to one day altogether.

“This will not happen simultaneously and not for all services, but a number of services — we call them the “gold standard” — must be provided within one working day, “silver standard” — within three working days, “bronze standard” — within 14 working days, thereby reducing the waiting time. This is a very ambitious task," the minister said.

A unique project is being implemented on the basis of the Republican Clinical Hospital — the medical care system in it is being upgraded according to international HIMSS standards. Now patients are provided with a special bracelet, a kind of electronic medical record — with an anamnesis and a list of appointments, and doctors and nurses have received laptops connected with the bracelets. Khayrullin believes, these digital solutions will ensure the transparency of treatment, and most importantly, avoid medical malpractice. In the future, the minister noted, this experience of the Republican Clinical Hospital can be extended to other Kazan clinics.

Rural first aid stations are also being modernised by equipping them with computer equipment, and at the same time, connecting them to optical fiber, so that paramedics have the opportunity, if necessary, to get advice from doctors of city hospitals and clinics, and residents of villages can quickly make an appointment at the Central District Hospital.

The Institute of Justice of the Peace will also receive digital tools — residents of the Republic of Tatarstan will have the opportunity to submit applications online, as well as participate in meetings via video link.

The electronic developments will be introduced during the year by the Ministry of Ecology, Ministry of Forestry, the agricultural sector, Ministry of Transport and Road Management, multifunctional centres — here the number of electronic services will increase by another 30.

“The goal is to improve the quality of our life”

Naturally, big projects await for the IT industry of Tatarstan itself. According to Khayrullin, there are plans to “make Tatarstan an attractive region for running digital businesses”. The two main “digital points” of the region — Innopolis and IT Park — will continue their development.

The number of residents of both territories constantly grows, besides, Ayrat Khayrullin notes, the second already has the status of IT resident No. 1 in the Skolkovo rating. It is planned to increase the number of residents of the park from 340 to 1,000 during the year.

This will be achieved by a new platform, which will be created on the territory of the former Spartak shoe factory, located literally 200 metres from the IT park. The proximity to it and several business centres will allow to build a kind of “digital quarter” on this territory, the head of the Ministry of Finance, Ayrat Khayrullin, shared the large project:

“This idea has already been supported by Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin to create a 'digital quarter' in the city centre, allowing not only our IT companies to work in comfortable conditions, but also to make such a small model of a digital city in a single place. These may be issues with 'smart' lighting, 'smart' traffic lights, 'smart' shops, places where you can charge an electric car, security-related issues, and everything that is included in the perimeter of the Smart City project.”

Tatinvestgrazhdanproekt is already designing the future quarter and transforming the buildings left over from the factory. Khayrullin did not say how much it will cost to create “the smart quarter”, since the estimate is not ready yet, but noted that the Ministry of Finance will name the amount in about a quarter, the task is to implement the project “with minimal costs, but convenient conditions”. It is planned to officially open the “smart quarter” at the end of 2022. By the way, anyone can get on his platform.

Ayrat Khairullin called the implementation of this unique project, plus the transfer of all public services to digital format, as well as providing high-speed Internet to rural residents the main tasks of the Year of Digitalisation in Tatarstan. He noted that today, in terms of the coverage of electronic platforms and services, digitalisation of all spheres of life, Tatarstan among the EU countries has already reached the 5th place in the rating, second only to Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia.

“Our goal is not rating for the sake of rating. Our main goal is to improve the quality of our lives with the help of digital technologies... Digital technologies have penetrated very much into our lives, and the state, responding to these requests, must solve two tasks: so that all 4 million residents of Tatarstan do not experience communication problems, because if they do not have Internet on their smartphone, they are not very interested in the phone as an opportunity to call, this is the most important strategic task. The second direction is to make sure that any of your interaction with the state is as convenient as your interaction with Yandex.Taxi or Delivery Club.”

Angelina Panchenko

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