Shaping the Future of Yekaterinburg: World Expo2025 and Smart City 

The decision for the right to host EXPO2025 will be announced on November 23, 2018 in Paris. Yesterday, news agencies reported that PM Dmitriy Medvedev will join the announcement event, another sign that the chances of Yekaterinburg are high.

The world exhibition will take place from May to November 2025 with 30 million expected visitors, an astonishing number. Yekaterinburg is competing with Osaka (Japan) and Baku (Azerbaijan).

Forbes points out in a recent article that Yekaterinburg was a candidate for Expo 2020, finishing a very close second to eventual winners Dubai and the interesting fact that since the first Expo in 1851 at the Great London Exhibition, Russia has never hosted an Expo. It says hopes are high this time, especially after being one of the host cities of the recent 2018 World Cup.

Expo2025 and Smart City can shape the future of Yekaterinburg and its Region over the next 20 years. The Russian government is ready to invest $2bn in infrastructure and exhibition facilities. In fact, a new city district, with an area of 555 hectares, will be built from scratch, based on advanced architectural concepts and smart city technologies. 

Smart City is a megatrend spreading all over the world. There is no exact definition since it’s not a standard roll-out with a fixed number of applications and services, but much more a vision of a green, sustainable and comfortable (in all aspects of daily life) city, created with the support of smart technologies and data analysis. The overarching mission is to optimise city functions while improving its citizens’ quality of life. 

Smart solutions have been already implemented on different scales in several cities around the world, with Singapore being considered the front-runner, but this is only the beginning. This field offers huge opportunities for cities and businesses, especially with the evolving internet of things (IoT), automation and machine learning technologies. 

At the centre of the Smart City concept is an intelligent network of connected objects and machines, all with sensors and cameras that collect and transmit different types of data using wireless technology into a central cloud platform – open for government, businesses and citizens. The cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyse and manage data to help municipalities, enterprises and citizens make better decisions that improve quality of life. The data usage can be wide-ranging, as is the number of applications.

For instance, connected traffic lights receive data from sensors and cars, adjusting light cadence and timing to respond to real-time traffic, thereby reducing road congestion. Connected cars can communicate with parking meters and EV charging docks to direct drivers to the nearest available spot. The smart parking meter also facilitates digital payments, so there’s no risk of coming up short on coins. By using smart sensors, smart streetlights can dim when there are no cars or pedestrians on the roadways. Smart waste containers send data to waste management companies and schedule pick-ups as needed, versus a pre-planned schedule. And citizens’ smartphones become their mobile driver’s license and ID card, speeding up and simplifying government services. Smart Cities also use green energy, optimise energy consumption (i.e. smart metering, smart homes) and reduce environmental pollution.

Together, these technologies are optimising infrastructure, mobility, public services and utilities.

The Sverdlovsk Region aims to become a Smart City champion in Russia, and it has a good chance to succeed. The Ural Federal University is one of Russia’s leading IT institutions, while Yekaterinburg is host to around 2.700 IT companies, 5 of which are on the list of the country’s 100 biggest IT enterprises. The Sverdlovsk Region is already an IT competence centre, ranked 3rd behind Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The dimensions of Expo2025 and the potential investment of $2bn can, and hopefully will, play a special role in the development of Smart City technologies in Yekaterinburg. Should the event not take place here, the Smart City district will still be developed in the format of a university and research campus. 

The ultimate goal is, however, to implement smart technologies all around the city and the Sverdlovsk Region by 2035. Competences evolving from the development and implementation of these technologies should also drive the digital transformation of the industry. 

In April 2018, the government of the Sverdlovsk Region released the Smart Region Development Framework Report, specifying the strategy and the steps forward. The government will create an ecosystem in the form of a safe infrastructure with an open data platform, and will also coordinate the actions of all stakeholders such as government bodies, universities, businesses, citizens etc. Further public procurement will generate demand for smart services and solutions. The document also specifies and prioritises the services to be developed and implemented. The register counts 130 services aggregated in 6 areas covering almost every known facet of Smart City technologies. 

The implementation (beyond EXPO2025) is envisaged in three stages: 

Stage I (2019 – 2024):

  • Services with immediate effects and low costs;
  • Services with delayed effects and low costs, the implementation of which has already begun;

Stage II (2025 – 2030):

  • Services with delayed effects and low costs, the implementation of which has not yet begun; 
  • Services with delayed effects and high costs;

Stage III (2031 – 2035):

  • Services with immediate effects and very high costs.

Aggregated expert evaluations of single services in accordance with these principle are presented in Appendix D of the document (in Russian).  SMART REGION

International companies and experts will be welcomed to participate in this exciting journey of Sverdlovsk Region.