Mazhilis discusses Digital Kazakhstan’s progress in creating smart cities

ASTANA – After examining international practices in building smart cities, the Kazakh government has developed its own concept, announced Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev at a recent Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) government hour.

Photo credit: liter.kz.

The concept is Digital Kazakhstan, a state programme adopted a year ago composed of five main areas, including 17 initiatives with 120 events. Abayev believes these activities will advance Kazakh cities onto the smart cities list.

McKinsey analysts have forecast the world will have 600 smart cities by 2020. The urban centres will produce nearly 60 percent of the global GDP after five years.

The five focus areas are housing and communal services, education, health, safety and transport. The ministries responsible for these areas have created digital deputy minister positions and all akimats (city administrations) have been developing projects in these areas, said Abayev.

One notable example is Sergek, a video surveillance system which has resulted in a 16-percent reduction of vehicle accidents on the capital’s roads. The smart street lighting system in Almaty has produced in a 40-percent energy savings.

The new online registration is currently used by 90 percent (approximately 2.7 million children) of Kazakh school students. Each central state agency has also conducted 19 days of digitisation, engaging more than 180 domestic IT companies.

More than half of public services have been automated. The remaining 42 percent include “receiving documents and enrolling children in kindergartens, accepting documents for organising individual free education at home for children, issuing state allowances for mothers with four children or more, registration of the establishment of paternity and adoption,” according to Mazhilis member Ivan Klimenko,

Mazhilis members were concerned about the digitisation effect on the labour market, especially the way it would affect the unemployment rate, and noted the importance of preparing and training people for new jobs requiring new skills created by digitisation.

They noted the project is being actively conducted and the emerging issues are resulting in systematic solutions.