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Livable Megacities – Moscow and St. Petersburg
Tale of Two Cities
Old and new high-rises characterize the frenetic boomtown that Moscow has become. St. Petersburg, on the other hand, is more relaxed and cultivates its historic image. But Russia’s two biggest cities have much in common: increasing traffic and overextended electricity networks. Municipal authorities are increasingly relying on Siemens technologies to provide solutions.
From his office on the 12th floor of the municipal building, Aleksandr Ivanovich Borisov looks down on the future of Moscow. A new neighborhood is being built at top speed on a former industrial wasteland in the western part of the city. The future Moscow International Business Center (MIBC) is expected to introduce something new: Combining commercial properties, residential units and recreational facilities in 1 km², it will be the first complex of its kind not only in Russia but in all of eastern Europe.
Renowned architects have designed the buildings of this "Manhattan on the Moskva." For example, Sir Norman Foster designed the Rossija Tower, which is set to be one of Europe’s highest skyscrapers. "It will symbolize Moscow as a global metropolis," says Borisov, who is an adviser to Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Director General of the Moscow International Business Association (MIBA).
Russia’s capital is vigorously claiming a place in the front ranks of global megacities. Ardently courted by foreign investors, Moscow is today the headquarters of all of Russia’s leading industrial companies and major credit institutions. With a population of 10.5 million, Moscow attracts workers from all over the country by offering the highest salaries, and it dominates the country’s wholesale and retail trade. "Moscow is the locomotive of the national economy," says Borisov.
In architectural terms, Moscow’s growth is primarily upwards. Free space is at a premium, and many factories are being relocated to the city’s outskirts. In the harsh light of reality, Moscow’s inhabitants and visitors alike realize how crowded the city has become. "Moscow shares the typical problems of Europe’s large cities. Its inhabitants suffer particularly from heavy traffic," says Yuri Rosljak, Moscow’s First Deputy Mayor. "Improving the situation is a basic priority." That’s because a working infrastructure is essential for investors as well.
Over 3.2 million vehicles are currently registered in Moscow, and 300,000 are added every year. "Nobody was prepared for this boom," Rosljak admits. Despite the authorities’ efforts to mitigate the traffic problem, constant congestion and a rising number of traffic accidents make daily driving difficult. Drivers sometimes spend hours traveling even short distances, and during rush hours passenger cars’ average speed is only 6 km/h.
In Moscow there are only 4.5 km of road per square kilometer—less than half of the figure for London. "What’s more, there’s no traffic guidance system that reacts to changing situations," explains Michael Abel from Siemens Intelligent Traffic Solutions. But a solution is taking shape on the Third Ring road around the city. Siemens, which signed a protocol of cooperation and partnership with Moscow’s municipal authorities in December 2006, is currently equipping the 34-km-long urban freeway with a comprehensive traffic guidance system that reacts flexibly to changing situations. In the future, speed limits will be flexibly set by means of electronic traffic signs, lanes will be closed off, and rules and recommendations will be flexibly posted. The system includes a traffic control computer, a video monitoring center and a weather station, the requisite sensors for traffic and weather data, cameras and a data transmission system. The system is due to enter service in mid-2007.
Moscow’s municipal authorities have also decided to change their approach to parking facilities. Siemens has equipped an initial set of parking spaces on Tverskaya Street with automatic parking meters, but that’s only the beginning. In a few years this technology will be expanded to cover 40,000 parking spaces. And a new parking garage management system with room for 1,400 vehicles at Domodedovo Airport enables drivers to pay by credit card as well as cash. The system even has an integrated license plate recognition function, which is a valuable tool in the struggle to prevent auto theft.
According to Yuri Rosljak, Moscow’s problems have increased even further in recent years, due to the fact that not only its inhabitants but Russians in general regard it as their most attractive city. For example, Moscow has developed a ravenous appetite for energy, with electricity consumption growing by eight percent annually. At that rate, power plant capacity, which is currently 15 GW, will need to increase to 31 GW by 2020, says Sergey Romanovski, who manages the city’s energy sector. "We already have less capacity than we need," he admits. In the cold winter of 2005/2006, shortfalls in the electricity network resulted in short-term interruptions of service for private customers.
Needed: Power Plants and Hospitals. Moscow urgently needs new power plants, and its outdated ones need to be modernized. Of the approximately 20 new construction projects planned in the city’s energy program, 14 will be privately funded. The Strogino urban power plant, which has two generator units, each with a capacity of 130 MW, has been equipped with gas and steam turbines from Siemens. Plans also call for an expansion of the distribution and high-voltage networks. "Siemens technologies offer good solutions for many aspects of the energy sector," says Moscow’s energy expert Romanovski.
In addition to transport and energy, Deputy Mayor Rosljak also sees tremendous challenges in the area of social services. "In our long-term development strategy, it is our duty to safeguard quality of life, better living conditions, employment and access to free education and training for our citizens," he says. That, he adds, will make life in Moscow even more attractive. For Rosljak, it’s obvious that the private sector must play a key role as a partner in these projects. With Siemens in mind, he cites medical technology as one example.
The tremendous demand for medical technology solutions and maintenance at hospitals is confirmed by radiologist Valentin Sinitsyn from the Cardiology Center at the state-supported Lomonosov University. "Our close partnership with Siemens dates back to 1991," he says. That was the year his institute ordered the first high-field magnetic resonance tomograph in Russia, to be used for the early detection of heart and circulatory disease and cancer. "This device quickly and efficiently delivers a large amount of high-quality information for diagnoses," Sinitsyn explains, adding that angiography devices are also very much in demand.
Fast Track to St. Petersburg. It takes rail travelers five and a half hours to get to St. Petersburg from Moscow, a distance of 700 km to the northwest. To make the trip more comfortable, the Russian government has ordered eight Velaro trains from Siemens. The company will also be responsible for their maintenance for the next 30 years. The next step will be to plot a new, faster rail route. After the project is completed, the trip is expected to take less than three hours on trains traveling 250 km/h.
"St. Petersburg, which still claims a leading role as a cultural center, was also specifically planned as a commercial center," explains Aleksandr Prokhorenko, the city official responsible for foreign contacts. But today, the city’s approximately 4.5 million inhabitants would benefit more from culture and commerce if traffic weren’t such a problem. Nevertheless, relief is on the way in the shape of bypass roads, a tunnel under the Neva River, additional bridges and subway routes, and a lightweight streetcar system. Because St. Petersburg requires increasing amounts of energy, the Northwest power plant, which uses turbines from Siemens, was built in 2001. A second generator unit from Siemens went into operation at the end of 2006.
"Piter," as St. Petersburg’s inhabitants affectionately call their city, has always played a major role for Siemens, says Igor Vershikovsky, who heads the local Siemens office. This is where Carl von Siemens, the company founder’s brother, opened Siemens’ first office in Russia in 1853. In 1991, Siemens launched its first joint venture with local turbine manufacturer LMZ.
Siemens is also a major sponsor of cultural and research activities here. For example, it’s subsidizing the construction of an interactive technology museum for children and youths in the Peter and Paul Fortress in the city center, and it grants ten scholarships annually to talented students. St. Petersburg, whose city center and surrounding palaces and gardens from czarist times is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has always valued the protection of cultural monuments. After the reconstruction of the Konstantinovsky Palace, which is now a conference center, the Russian company Neviss-Kompleks provided the Palace’s energy supply and building automation systems. "Siemens, which supplied the components, has a good reputation here. That helped us a lot with this contract," says Neviss-Kompleks General Director Aleksandr Shvirikasov.
Siemens’ cooperation with environmental protection companies is also growing, says Siemens office head Vershikovsky. One such project involves purifying the water flowing down the Neva into the Baltic Sea. "Finland and the Baltic countries practice environmental protection according to EU norms, so greater demands are now being placed on us," he says.
St. Petersburg differs from Moscow primarily in terms of its well-preserved historic center. High-rises exist only in housing projects on the outskirts, and even they are less than 25 stories high. But that may change. A Gazprom Group subsidiary is planning a multipurpose business center, Gazprom City, to be located along the Neva near the baroque Smolny Cloister. Initial plans for a 300-m skyscraper have triggered storms of protest from local inhabitants. All in all, if the project goes through, the city could wind up having more in common with Moscow than most people think.
The Russian Federation has a formidable research network consisting of renowned universities and research institutes, which are concentrated within the administrative structure of the Moscow Academy of Science. Siemens has been working closely with Russian research teams for years. For example it has been involved with Lomonosov University in Moscow in the area of nano-carbon-based materials for use in the cathodes of advanced, next-generation X-ray systems. "Russia has an excellent reputation in the area of materials research," says Dr. Martin Gitsels, who is responsible for Siemens’ cooperation in the project. Gitsels heads the research center that was established by Corporate Technology (CT) in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2004. Another focus of CT’s research center is the development of new concepts for turbine combustion chambers. Siemens also recently launched a joint research project in the area of software and systems engineering with the International Institute for Advanced Aerospace Technologies, which is based in St. Petersburg. The project focuses on methods of improving the quality of safety-relevant systems. "We usually initiate research projects on commission from our customers at Siemens or from CT and take on the responsibility for the expenses involved," says Gitsels. For their part, the Russian partners in such projects contribute laboratory infrastructure and expertise to the research work.