The Role of Advanced Digital Services and Convenient Modern Infrastructure in Transportation Systemsby@antagonist
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The Role of Advanced Digital Services and Convenient Modern Infrastructure in Transportation Systems

by Aremu Adams AdebisiApril 24th, 2023
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Pavel Krovyakov led the development of Moscow's urban public surface transport information technologies from 2015 to 2021. He shares his experiences in developing and implementing IT projects, modernizing the ticketing system, and developing the popular Mosgorpass social navigator. He also explains how his unique successful experience in implementing large-scale Moscow IT projects helps customers in various industries.

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Over the past decade, the use of public transport in Moscow has significantly increased, with 64% of all trips made by public transport in 2022. This popularity is largely attributed to the implementation of advanced technological solutions in the city's transport infrastructure.

Pavel Krovyakov, who led the development of Moscow's urban public surface transport's information technologies from 2015 to 2021, sheds light on how large digital projects were implemented in front of 20 million residents and tourists.

In this interview, he shares his experiences in developing and implementing IT projects, modernizing the ticketing system, developing the popular Mosgorpass social navigator, and how his unique successful experience in implementing such large-scale Moscow IT projects helps customers in various industries.

Q: Pavel, it's impressive to hear that you became a director at the age of 24. Could you share with us how you achieved it?

Sure. By the time I was offered the position, I had been working at the company for two years, handling key IT projects for the pharmaceutical business.  I managed to successfully lead an IT project that created and implemented an ERP class system for "Rigla," a large Russian pharmacy chain with over 1,000 pharmacies, and this helped my case.

I also completed two higher education programs in technical and economic fields and obtained a professional PMP degree in project management. In my new role, I oversaw a separate business unit in Moscow and several other regions, where I was responsible for managing IT projects, as well as the financial and economic activities of the division.

Q: Your experience at Mosgortrans is remarkable, and you've led some significant projects. How did you find yourself in that position?

I gained my first international experience in 2014 as the CEO of an IT startup that provided services for constructing reliable geographically distributed software and hardware data storage systems. Mosgortrans, the Moscow City Transport, was one of my key clients. I managed the project with a systematic approach to IT project management, leveraging my deep technical expertise in implementation.

The CEO of Mosgortrans appreciated my work and personally invited me to join their team at the end of 2015. Until July 2021, I was responsible for all IT aspects of urban ground passenger transport, including introducing new technologies, ensuring 24/7 uninterrupted operations, and optimizing the existing geographically distributed infrastructure.

Q: Mosgortrans, with more than 30,000 employees, over 10,000 vehicles, and several thousand distributed urban infrastructure facilities, is Europe's largest passenger transport operator. How did you develop and implement a digital transformation strategy for an organization of this scale?

When I joined Mosgortrans, there was no IT strategy, concept, or roadmap for implementation within the organization. I began by conducting a technical audit of the business processes, existing infrastructure, and services, studying the strategic goals of the city's transport complex, and identifying the tasks of Mosgortrans in increasing the popularity of public transport among passengers.

Our aim was to provide high-quality and demanded services while also increasing Mosgortrans' efficiency by increasing revenue and reducing costs. To achieve this, we needed to modernize outdated services and introduce modern and flexible technology solutions that could function stably, and optimize and automate the main business processes.

We had an annual budget of up to $70 million for the implementation of the IT tasks, involving more than 400 employees of the IT block, as well as several dozen specialized contractors. I updated the roadmap every year for all five years, taking into account new strategic goals and individual instructions from the city's leadership. Typically, we exceeded the annual plan with the team by 120%, which led to the emergence of new, previously unplanned tasks.

Q: The passenger traffic in Moscow has grown steadily, with figures exceeding 13 million trips per day at the beginning of 2023, a 12% increase compared to January last year. How have the IT projects you implemented helped increase the demand for public transport?

The primary goal of any urban transport system is to increase passenger traffic. We must persuade individuals to switch from their personal cars to public transport. A trip by public transport is a service that involves getting from point A to point B. To provide quality service, two things must be combined. Firstly, using updated transport and wide, dedicated lanes can help increase the speed of movement. Secondly, emotional perception matters.

There should be a multimodal online route from anywhere that allows users to view vehicle arrival forecasts on the stop or their phone, purchase tickets and pay for travel using various methods, charge their gadgets, use free wi-fi, watch engaging video content, ask questions or provide feedback online, chat with other passengers, listen to audio tours, and use augmented reality tools. It's worth noting that innovation and infrastructure are intertwined. Installing high-speed Wi-Fi in old buses where passengers are crammed like "herrings in a barrel" or hanging electronic displays on dirty bus stops is unlikely to increase passenger traffic.

In general, During my time at Mosgortrans, I used public transport every week, and it was always interesting to build a route in a mobile application and check the accuracy of vehicle arrival forecasts. I also tested the modernized fare system, media panels, and onboard equipment to experience the service first-hand. It seems to me that public transport in Moscow has improved significantly in recent years and is now more convenient, comfortable, and faster than before. Those living in the city have recognized the higher level of service provided by major updates and IT services that have been available since 2016.

Q: How did you manage to successfully implement up to a hundred urban transport infrastructure projects annually in a large metropolis?

It's crucial to understand that the work we do is visible to over 20 million citizens in the Moscow agglomeration. Therefore, we must not only obtain approval from the city's leadership but also receive positive feedback from passengers, residents, guests of the capital, the media, and other city organizations. As with any managerial work, the application of accumulated knowledge is vital in practice.

Unfortunately, 99% of managers possess a lot of knowledge but can't implement it. In addition, taking responsibility, immersing oneself in ongoing projects, and possessing technical expertise is necessary. Moreover, the ability to form a competent team of employees, specialized contractors, vendors, and other expert partners is essential Being a leader when working with this team is equally important.

Q: During your work, you completely modernized the ticketing system. Did it allow you to abandon the conductors and increase the speed of traffic?

Yes, the system made it possible to eliminate a large number of conductors and all turnstiles. Now, data is sent online to the controllers' personal devices, where the data from passenger traffic analysis sensors and the fare collection system is automatically compared. Controllers selectively check individual routes where the biggest differences in numbers are revealed. Before my arrival at Mosgortrans, the ticketing system didn't develop much, and online transactions was not possible The speed of reading a ticket and opening turnstiles was also slow.

For this, under my supervision, we modernized 100% of the fare collection system equipment and made various software improvements, We installed over 200 innovative city ticket vending and replenishment machines to enable contactless payment for travel using bank cards and smartphones with functions such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay As a result, passengers can now receive all trip validations online.

Further, the modernization of the ticketing system has increased the speed of transport as well. The turnstile-less mode allows passengers to enter the cabin through all doors, making boarding ground transport quicker and more convenient. That way, passengers can save five to 15 minutes on their journey.

Q: Did you expect that your completed project would be so successful in Russia and recognized at the world level?

I believe the popularity of public transport largely depends on service quality, as measured by passenger feedback and other KPIs. If the service is poor, it's unlikely that the popularity of public transport would grow from year to year, as well as the increase in passenger traffic mentioned earlier.

Our modernized ticketing system was not only in demand in Moscow but also in other regions. In 2021, it successfully operated vehicles in the Moscow Region, Tula and Tula Region, Novy Urengoy, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Ulyanovsk, Perm Territory, Rostov Region, the Republic of Karelia, and the Leningrad Region.

In addition, it's important to assess not only "from within" but also from external experts..The city's transport complex was awarded the main prize of the international Transport Ticketing Global award for "Best smart ticketing system - 2020" in London.

The "Moscow Transport" mobile application, also known as "Mosgorpass," is one of the most advanced MaaS solutions in the world It has been used to build more than 17 million routes and has a 4.5 rating on the AppStore and Google Play. The application has received several international awards, including the Transport Ticketing Award 2021 in London for the Best MaaS Initiative, the Digital Leaders Award 2021 for the Smart Solution of the Year in the Public Transport category, and the TRANStech Awards 2019 in London for the MaaS category.

The service allows for the integration of all public and commercial transport services in the city into a single ecosystem that can be accessed through a single mobile application. Users can build routes that take personal preferences and all types of transport into account, such as the metro, buses, trams, railway transport, carsharing, bicycles, and scooters. Additionally, the app allows users to book and pay for trips from their personal account, making it easier, more convenient, and more comfortable to travel around the city and greatly improving the passenger experience.

When we started developing the application, we knew that the city needed its own social navigator that was not dependent on commercial organizations like Google and Yandex. The goal was to create a platform with millions of users, but we did not anticipate how quickly it would become popular. It was our first experience implementing such a project.

The Moscow transport complex is always eager to pioneer and try out new innovations. The application was initially created as a social navigator for friendly communication between passengers, including people with disabilities. We also wanted to increase the tourist attractiveness of the city by adding multilingual functionality, which is how augmented reality and excursions became part of the program. These features were particularly popular among visitors to the capital, especially during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow.

In addition, the city has the ability to influence people's transport behavior and optimize the route network through big data analysis. This has led to a reduction in traffic congestion, an improvement in the ecological situation, and an increase in the popularity of new types of urban transport such as car sharing, bicycles, and scooters.

Q: You are now working in private practice. With Moscow having the largest transport infrastructure in Russia and Europe, how has your successful experience in implementing large-scale IT projects in Moscow helped your clients?

Yes, that's correct. However, not only transport organizations but also small and large national and international companies have IT project implementation tasks. Therefore, I assist businesses in implementing IT projects in various areas, especially companies that are entering new countries and have a critical need for IT infrastructure development for their distributed infrastructure, such as offices, warehouses, and production sites.

For example, last year, I successfully completed a technical audit and roadmap development for implementing an IT concept for an international architectural bureau with offices in Russia, Germany, and Portugal, and a Russian-Czech FMCG company. In general, the IT market is extensive and diverse, and your reputation is paramount. When you deliver successful projects and maintain positive relationships with your managers, clients, and contractors, your reputation becomes more prominent.