The new digital era demands new solutions

14 april 2017

The Analytical Center experts Evgeny Gasho, Dmitry Khomchenko, and Alexander Malakhov spoke at the annual Energy Efficiency Technologies national forum in Yekaterinburg. The Analytical Center traditionally co-organized the event, whose central topic this year was digital economy. The event included round tables and expert discussions about ways to improve the efficiency of the economy.

"Even though there is no generally agreed definition for the term digital economy, nobody is disputing the fact that it is already pretty much upon us," Alexander Malakhov said at the plenary session. "We are seeing such important trends as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, augmented reality, wearable gadgetry and others." According to the expert, the development of the information and communication technologies and IT competencies is transforming the existing production processes and the interactions between vendors and buyers.

According to Mr. Malakhov, the media have already been transformed. Other industries that have already been greatly affected by digitization but where the results of this impact are not entirely clear yet are retail and consumer services (insurance, banking, and telecommunications). Other sectors, such as industry, healthcare, education, energy are on the verge of major transformations. "And if we just keep sitting on the verge, a couple years from now we are going to be left in the dust, the way it once happened in IT," the expert summed up.

"Even though there is no generally agreed definition for the term digital economy, nobody is disputing the fact that it is already pretty much upon us"

 Alexander Malakhov

Mr. Malakhov also talked about the Smart City concept in which technology develops to transform social interactions. A smart city is a data-driven city and data management allows utilities to drastically improve the quality of life for the population. "All the technologies are already available; none of them represent major innovations and none demand huge investments. What is needed is to make the next important step, which is to start using them and benefiting from them. I mean some successful projects already exist and not only that, but they are profitable as well," the expert noted.

"Energy efficiency is turning into a development driver for the most energy intensive sectors of the economy, while improvements in the overall environmental friendliness of the economy are also being achieved through industrial policy measures and new economic regulations," Evgeny Gasho said at the plenary session.

"Energy efficiency is turning into a development driver for the most energy intensive sectors of the economy"

Evgeny Gasho

According to the expert, it is not just isolated problems and errors with some specific regulations that are taking center stage now but rather the need for a comprehensive and consistent information policy, personnel training, more active efforts to get young people and students on board with new projects and technologies. It is only this kind of comprehensive approach that is going to make it possible in the future to identify and focus on the commercialization of specific youth startups and other mechanisms to support young investors, Mr. Gasho believes.  

"The Analytical Center is consistently working on mechanisms to support the modernization of industry," Mr. Gasho also noted, "These include amendments to the resolution on the list of the most efficient technologies, adaptation of the first EU references of best available technologies for energy efficiency and the development of analytical materials to support these efforts."

Dmitriy Khomchenko noted in his presentation that energy conservation projects had to be implemented at the local level while the regional and federal governments were responsible for creating the right environment and conditions. "Surveys conducted by the Analytical Center just several years ago painted a rather grim picture; for example, regarding the modernization of street lighting in small towns," Mr. Khomchenko said." Today, we are seeing that a lot has changed even if we look at the discussions in our forum: municipal governments are finding resources to pull off these projects and private businesses are also joining in."

"Energy conservation projects are to be implemented at the local level while the regional and federal governments are responsible for creating the right environment and conditions"

Dmitriy Khomchenko

According to the expert, unlike in industry and in the agricultural sector, housing utilities, urban infrastructure and budget-funded organization need attention from the local governments. Unfortunately, at the moment none of these issues are getting addressed in a comprehensive and consistent manner anywhere in the country.