Natalia Sergunina, Deputy Mayor, Moscow City Government, Moscow

By Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

How do you employ technology/policy to improve the lives of citizens? Tell us about your role or the organization you work for.

I have been working in the Moscow City Government for more than 10 years. Currently, I hold the position of Deputy Mayor – Chief of Staff of the Mayor and Government of Moscow. My area of responsibility includes many issues related to modern technology – from implementing advanced solutions in various fields to forming conditions for the development of startups and technological entrepreneurship.

Any technology implemented in Moscow is not for the sake of the technology itself, but to make life in the metropolis as comfortable as possible. The technological and digital transformation is focused, first and foremost, on the resident.

This year, Moscow's digital ecosystem celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2011, we launched our first electronic service. Now, more than 380 useful digital services are already helping citizens in their daily activities. You can use them to make an appointment with a doctor or for an immunisation, to enroll your child in a creative circle or a sports section, or to apply for a business subsidy.

The website, the official portal of the Mayor and Government of Moscow, which accumulates online services, has 14.4 million registered users.

Almost any everyday issue can be solved online. Unnecessary trips to institutions and receiving and transferring paper certificates are a thing of the past: they are replaced by a few clicks. The city has become as human-centered as possible, transforming from a bureaucrat to an assistant who is always around and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

I want to highlight the certification of Moscow according to international standards ISO 37120 "Sustainable Communities - indicators of urban services and quality of life" and ISO 37122 "Sustainable Cities and Communities - indicators for smart cities”.

We received the certificates this spring. But it is worth noting that the indicators of the city sustainable development, which were evaluated by the experts, are the result of many years of work by the whole team of the Moscow Government, headed by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Moreover, the standard ISO 37122 was approved quite recently, and the Russian capital was one of the first 10 cities in the world to pass the certification. The ISO 37122 indicators reflect the effectiveness of the use of technological solutions in all sectors to improve the quality of life.

There are 80 parameters, including demonstrating the implementation of technology in critical areas such as urban planning, economy, health, education and others.

What is especially important: the experts evaluated the most applicable indicators. They reflect the state of affairs in those spheres, which the citizens face on a daily basis. Therefore, the receipt of ISO certificates proves that Moscow is really effective in using smart solutions to improve the quality of life. It is this principle – technology for people's sake – that lies at the heart of the capital's development.

What was the main conclusion or discovery you took away from 2021?

2021, like the entire pandemic period, has once again demonstrated that today, we are laying the foundation for development for years to come. The city programmes that we started implementing in Moscow many years ago play a big role now.

Largely thanks to our laying foundations for the future in previous years, our city is confidently coping with the challenges of Covid-19. Almost all of the solutions we apply to combat the spread of coronavirus rely on existing projects. The medical sector, economy, education and culture – all areas have shown their resilience and reliability.

Here is an example: Moscow has been putting additional focus on digitalisation and the development of communication infrastructure for a long time. In 2011, residents had used the city's electronic services only 57,000 times. By the end of 2020, this figure has exceeded 400 million. Muscovites themselves, the business community, cultural and educational institutions have long accepted online solutions in everyday life.

Electronic government services, telemedicine, online classes at schools and universities, virtual tours of museums, remote purchase of meals in restaurants, groceries and any other goods are common for Muscovites. The accelerated reorientation of many spheres to the online format because of the coronavirus was not painful, there was no leap. The transition was smooth.

For the convenience of citizens, we have implemented additional features, such as online registration for Covid-19 vaccination and electronic application for subsidies and anti-coronavirus business support measures.

What are your priorities for 2022 and beyond?

Our priority remains unchanged and does not depend even on factors such as the coronavirus pandemic. As the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin always stresses, the goal of every programme we implement is to further improve the quality of the urban environment and the living standards of Muscovites.

Prospects for the development of Moscow as a smart city are inextricably linked to the introduction of technologies – artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data analysis. AI-based solutions are already used in every sixth city project. We will continue to develop this experience.

We are also planning to create new superservices. This is not a separate digitised service, but a whole package of electronic services grouped for different life situations. For example, when a child is born, a digital assistant will inform parents about the payments and benefits that are due, help to apply for them, and offer to attach a child to the children's polyclinic.

Another goal is the proactive provision of state services without unnecessary applications and the need to submit the same documents. Let's say a person receives a certain service every year. He won't need to apply every year and wait for its consideration: the system will do everything automatically.

If you summarise everything already said, any management decision in Moscow relies on analytics and technological capabilities. They help in regulating traffic flows, building the subway and new schools, improving the infrastructure of individual districts and the city as a whole.

The previous management models simply do not work anymore in large megacities, where millions of people move and interact daily, who are used to living at high speeds and receiving high quality services very quickly.

What heroes or mentors inspire you?

I am inspired by the dedication, comprehensive approach and experience of my immediate supervisor, Sergei Sobyanin. Thanks to him, Moscow has radically changed – it has become modern, progressive and really smart. Attractive for living, creating a family, self-development and professional realisation.

Today's Moscow also attracts millions of travelers. Muscovites are very hospitable, tourists are always welcome.

I am also inspired by the Mayor's team. I am glad to be a member. It is a team of like-minded people, very responsible and energetic specialists. They are real professionals. I am grateful to the Mayor of Moscow for the opportunity to participate in large-scale, including international, programs that contribute to the development of my native city and benefit Muscovites.