"The development of digital government and digital services for the public is helping reduce inequality both within countries and between countries," Deputy Head of Analytical Center Tatiana Radchenko said, speaking at the Common Future forum. In her report, the expert talked about the role of digitization in the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
Ms Radchenko suggested analyzing the impact of the digital economy on the achievement of the sustainable development goals in three areas. First is the development of infrastructure to allow the public to get and businesses to create new digital services. Second is the development and deployment of digital technologies in various areas of life. And third is the legislative framework allowing their use.
Among the success stories, the expert cited the development of telemedicine and digital education. "In 2018 a system of telemedicine services was launched in Russia, which completely changed our ideas about the accessibility of healthcare," Ms Radchenko noted. "Doctors can hold conferences, consult patients and monitor their condition remotely in online mode. As a result, large chunks of the population who didn't use to have easy access to healthcare facilities now have access to high quality healthcare services." As for education, the useful initiatives mentioned by the expert include online professional development courses for educators, digital training systems that allow students to select study materials and assignments using machine learning technologies, remote exam preparation services and others.
Inequality is being reduced by, among other things, the development of the Internet access infrastructure with the result that more and more people get access to the Internet. Ms Radchenko cited Federal Statistics Service data for 2014-2018, according to which Internet penetration in Russia in that period grew from 67.2% to 80.9% while the share of households with Internet access in the same period went up from 69.9% to 76.6%.
The expert made special mention of the increase in Internet access among social important institutions. "The share of public libraries with Internet access went from 61.1% in 204 to 81.4% in 2014-2018," she said. "The share of socially important infrastructure facilities with broadband Internet access grew from 30.3% in 2017 to 36.1% in 2018 and by 2024 we expect that figure to go up all the way to 100%."
In addition, inequality is also being reduced as a result of the development of online government services, the expert stressed: "In 2018 the number of users of the government services portal reached 86 million and that year 2.6 billion services were provided through the portal, in other words every day some 1.6 million people were using the portal. In 2020 the popularity of the portal may grew even further because we now plan to conduct the national census through it."
The development of digital government services is also improving the conditions for doing business. Thus, according to the Doing Business Ranking Russia has been rated among the top 10 countries in term of the ease of getting connected to the power grid, being rated 7th of 190 countries after the time it takes to get a grid connection was reduced by almost half from 73 to 38 days. In construction, the time to get a construction permit was reduced from 193.8 to 160 days. Such qualitative change is achieved first and foremost through the digitization and optimization of government services, the expert stressed.
"We need to review the indicators the UN offers. Specifically, we need to redefine the notion of accessibility and adjust the methods that the UN proposes using as well as the set of indicators that characterize digital technologies and the development of a digital infrastructure," Ms Radchenko said in conclusion.