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‘Seeing Moscow Ranked First among the Cities of BRICS Countries Is Pleasant, but Not Surprising’

‘Seeing Moscow Ranked First among the Cities of BRICS Countries Is Pleasant, but Not Surprising’

© HSE University

An international consortium of research organisations from China, India, and Russia, including HSE University’s Faculty of Urban and Regional Development represented by experts from the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urban Studies and Planning and the Centre for Social Research and Technological Innovation (CITY), is developing an index of technological and spatial urban development (the Urban & Innovation Environment Index). Recently, a list of the top 10 largest cities of the BRICS countries was published on the project’s website. The Russian capital took the first place in the ranking, followed by Beijing, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Guangzhou.

‘Seeing Moscow in first place among the cities of the BRICS countries in the ranking is pleasant, but not surprising,’ said Evgeny Mikhaylenko, Dean of HSE University’s Faculty of Urban and Regional Development and Director of CITY. ‘Step by step over recent years, the city authorities have been implementing a strategy to improve the comfort of the urban environment, develop polycentricity, and create points of attraction for residents throughout the city. The members of the consortium highlighted Moscow’s efforts to modernise public transport infrastructure, increase the accessibility and variety of functions for residents, and grow the scientific and cultural potential of the city. To assess the scale of the changes, it is enough to recall such projects as the Moscow Central Ring and Moscow Central Diameter, the construction of the Big Circle Line, the replacement of traditional buses with electric buses, and the development of river transport.’ The development of innovative infrastructure, particularly digital social services, delivery and mobility services, plays a big role in calculating the index, explained Evgeny Mikhaylenko. The city’s support for high-tech industries and the active implementation of digital projects also made a significant contribution to Moscow’s leadership, he concluded.

The project’s consortium includes:

 South China University of Technology (People’s Republic of China)

 Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences (People’s Republic of China)

 The Faculty of Urban and Regional Development in partnership with the GeoData Centre of HSE University’s Faculty of Geography and Geoinformation Technology (Russia)

 O.P. Jindal Global University (India)

The Guangdong – CIS International Technology Cooperation Union (PRC) coordinates the joint work. The consortium continues to add new research teams, and the project’s initiators have set themselves the task of making the index an internationally recognised tool for assessing urban development and environmental comfort for residents.

The key idea of ​​the index is to show how a city’s innovative and balanced spatial development allows its residents to save time. The index is based on a unique methodology that allows for working with both statistics and open spatial data and satellite imagery. This way, it is not the nominal availability of a particular service that is taken into account, but its objective accessibility for citizens.

The tool makes it possible to conduct a comprehensive assessment of urban development at the intersection of spatial and innovative technology factors. It identifies and visualises imbalances and gaps in these areas of urban development.

The consortium team presented the index methodology and the results of assessing the largest cities of the BRICS countries at the BRICS International Innovation Forum in Moscow’s Zaryadye. The session was moderated by Kirill Puzanov, Associate Professor at HSE University’s Graduate School of Urban Studies and Planning. The index was presented by Xu Huanyu (Guangdong – CIS International Technology Cooperation Union) and Yu Feng (South China University of Technology), and discussed by Nicholas You (Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation) and Anusha Kesarkar (Observer Research Foundation, India). The participants discussed the objectivity of the proposed methodology and the applicability of the developed tools for solving urban development problems, noting that the index is timely and useful for city administrations.

The consortium’s plans for 2023 are to analyse the key indicators for the 100 largest cities in the world, and then subject the 30 leading cities to a more detailed analysis to form a final rating. The full version of the ranking for cities around the world will be released in December 2023.

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