President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You planned to tell me about the Agency’s performance, as well as about your cooperation with social organisations, if I rightly remember. Please, go ahead.
ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva: Mr President, I would like to provide a general outline of our performance in 2020 and the results of the National Social Initiative pilot project.
Last year, we focused our attention on supporting the projects that enjoyed especially great demand during the pandemic. Working together with large digital and educational platforms, we launched an additional education service, which teachers, parents and, most importantly, pupils, could use during the period of distance learning. About half a million children received access to the internet and technical backup for continuing their education online during that period.
We provided assistance to several AI-based medical platforms.
Mr President, the most important thing is that these projects, which used to be minor start-up companies we presented at a meeting of the Supervisory Board and which you supported, attracted major investments last year and have won the trust of major investors. And now millions of our citizens are using their services.
One of them is the Uchi.ru project. You met with the founder of that educational startup, Ivan Kolomoyets, in Karelia in 2017. Last year, their revenue reached 3 billion rubles, and half of our pupils are using this platform for distance education. Mail.ru Group and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have joined this project as investors.
Other examples concern medical platforms. Sberbank has become a large investor of CoBrain. Botkin and five other projects have received about 1.8 billion rubles of allocations through the National Technology Initiative projects.
Mr President, you instructed the ASI Supervisory Board to launch the National Technology Initiative. Last year we managed to launch large projects that we can talk about and be proud of.
First of all, the first Russian-made Kama-1 electric vehicle was presented, and a pilot 5G network went live. We have launched the Smart Roads pilot test on the Avtodata platform, which means fewer traffic accidents and, accordingly, more saved lives. We have completed projects such as the Digital PDZ-Krymenergo and Digital PDZ of the Valdai District in Novgorod Region.
Last year, we also launched a platform for gathering ideas on improving the socioeconomic situation in our country. We did not expect to see that much interest in it. Our people have come up with 15,000 ideas, including ways of preventing the coronavirus pandemic fallout. We have been working on this idea alongside the Roscongress Foundation and TASS news agency, which helped us a lot. The main ideas, which received support of the popular and expert vote, were presented during the Strong Ideas forum, in which you, Mr President, thank you very much for that, took part and spoke with several project leaders.
We already have the first results, such as a digital Braille recognition platform. As you may recall…
Vladimir Putin: I do.
Svetlana Chupsheva: …A father with eight children… The project became widely popular after this function. Already 2,500 people are using this application, and 40 specialised schools are using this programme.
A project leader from Uzbekistan was asked to adapt it to the Uzbek language so that people in Uzbekistan could use this application as well.
The application is free. It can be adapted at the request of teachers and parents. Thankfully, the project is being implemented.
We also discussed the creation of a proper environment for operating autonomous sea vessels. Last year, already in December, immediately after the forum, the Government adopted the necessary legal and regulatory framework. Already today, in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, we are testing out technological solutions on four types of vessels. We plan to have it adopted for use by the commercial fleet by August.
Many positive things are taking place in the regions, practices that are not widely known. This is where we are making very good use of the platform that you instructed us to launch, a platform for exchanging the best socioeconomic development practices between the regions. They were extremely handy for quickly providing assistance to small businesses and people during the pandemic. These practices are concerned with vocational guidance and medical aid. There are already more than 400 such practices which have proved their effectiveness. What is even more important, 186 practices have been re-introduced in the regions.
Vladimir Putin: They are being spread about.
Svetlana Chupsheva: They are indeed, because who needs to invent the wheel when there are ready-made solutions that can be implemented without any major outlays?
I would like to tell you about the National Social Initiative. We have been acting upon your instructions. Six months ago, you instructed us to analyse real-life situations that happen in the spheres of importance for the people, such as enrolling children in a kindergarten, finding a school or joining an interest group, requesting outpatient medical aid or getting a date for a planned operation, or searching for a job.
During the first stage we selected 10 basic real-life situations in healthcare, education and the social sphere. Seven governors asked to be allowed to take part in the project, the heads of seven Russian regions. We also reviewed these regions’ experience of improving the functioning of schools, outpatient clinics and hospitals, as well as social institutions. We were greatly helped by the FCC, the Federal Competence Centre for Labour Productivity. All of these facilities made good use of its efficiency techniques.
It is extremely important that the National Social Initiative is based on the same principles and mechanisms as the National Business Initiative. I would like to explain once again why it has been so successful.
First of all, it was for the first time ever, probably in the world, that programmes were drafted not by federal agencies based on business recommendations, but vice versa. Our businesses outlined problems and proposed and developed solutions, while the federal agencies acted as expert advisers, suggesting recommendations in some cases and offering a degree of resistance in others. But, ultimately, we got there.
The second aspect is very important. It is not only that business was involved in all the processes linked with the implementation of these decisions, because it is not enough just to draft some act or adopt some law – it was very important to understand how it was going to work. Feedback was organised in the regions and at the federal level, and not a single regulation on the terms of business operation or the business climate was adopted without consultations with entrepreneurs and working groups of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.
And the third point, which is very important as well – motivation and an exchange of best practices in the regions were created. At that time, we launched a national investment ranking to assess the investment climate. Entrepreneurs told us what support measures a region carried out, what infrastructure it created, and when businesses were connected to networks and registered. This made it possible to drastically reduce all these procedures and time periods in five years. We no longer hear about this as a problem. Business people do not talk about this anymore.
It is very important that we went to the people when we started implementing the National Social Initiative. We talked to the people who had already gone through such situations and had the experience – both positive and negative. So we went with them through all these stages.
Vladimir Putin: How did you make the selection?
Svetlana Chupsheva: We worked with focus groups. Social non-profit companies helped us with this. The regions also made their suggestions, but, of course, we wanted to make the selection ourselves so it would be as representative and independent as possible.
In each region we had a group of 300 people in completely different situations. Together we divided everything into stages. Say it is necessary to register a child for kindergarten: what papers and documents are required; where to submit them, what is the deadline; how long will it take and what does this procedure look like? We analysed every situation in this way.
Importantly, as the focus groups were working, we already understood that the regions had great potential to reduce deadlines, excessive paperwork, and verification documents. We saw a gap in cooperation between the departments, structures and organisations, realising that cutting-edge technology will make it possible to resolve this problem, among others.
Last year you supported online sales of over-the-counter medicines. And here, too, having surveyed people who asked for healthcare aid, we can see huge positive feedback that this helped families with young children, families with elderly members, especially during the pandemic, because it is very easy and simple to get the necessary medicines. This is why, of course, such decisions are also very important for people, they play a huge role and help to get high-quality help, and this help will be easily accessible.
We could also see that situations differ from region to region. People come to us with the same problems, but we can also see that there are better management solutions that can be used in different regions as well. For example, because the waiting time for an appointment with a narrowly focused specialist, such as a cardiologist, is five days in one region and over 40 days in another. The same is true for signing children up for kindergarten: somewhere it only takes seven days, but in other places the wait can last up to two years.
That is why we also looked into this, both with people and experts working at various organisations, to figure out how to provide aid to people according to their needs.
Governors support us in this work. Together with experts and the people who are going directly through these stages, we have developed regional proposals as some standard target models.
There are also proposals that cannot be addressed without amending the federal legislation. This is why we will need your help, Mr President. Today we are working with federal agencies, with the Russian Government and, of course, in line with your instructions; we will be ready to present all these documents and initiatives as early as the first quarter of this year.
Vladimir Putin: Are you talking about the social area of work?
Svetlana Chupsheva: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: Fine, let us see what this is about.