10 years anniversary: how the portal Our City made it easier to solve urban issues

10 years anniversary: how the portal Our City made it easier to solve urban issues
Photo by Y. Ivanko. Mos.ru
A full-fledged digital ecosystem of interaction between the authorities and residents was created in Moscow in recent years. The Our City portal now is one of its most important elements, and it helped solve over 5.2 million urban problems.

Poor-quality cleaning in the courtyard of a residential house or burnt-out light bulbs at the entrance, damaged road pavement or snowed up alley of the park — until recently these complaint took a lot of Muscovites’ time and effort. There were no online tools at all for such communication with the Moscow authorities. However, everything changed with appearance of the Our City portal.

The portal helps Muscovites control the timeliness and quality of repair works, improvement and maintenance of urban facilities, report violations, evaluate the work of institutions, monitor the services of metro, clinics and pharmacies, as well as good order and hygienic condition in courtyards, parks and public land transport.

The first version of the portal was launched on October 17, 2011. Then, it was possible to complain the poor quality and non-compliance with the deadlines for the improvement of the courtyard and correct it in a matter of days.

Since then, the functionality of the Our City portal was expanded significantly. It helped solve over 5.2 million issues. More than 1.7 million Muscovites joined the project, including residents of the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative districts. The portal became available for them after a large-scale upgrading of services in 2020.

“For 10 years now, the Our City portal helps enhance the Moscow community engagement. User can access it and send a request from nearly any web-connected device. The portal has a multi-level information processing system, so not a single issue is left without attention,” said Eduard Lysenko, Minister of the Moscow Government, head of the Information Technology Department.

Portal and its performances

There are eight categories on the Our City portal: “My courtyard ”, “My house”, “My road”, “My park”, “Government institutions”, “Public transport”, “Trade and advertising”, as well as “City area”. Problematic topics to be reported are collected within each section.

“For users convenience themes are classified by seasons: winter, summer and year-round. The user always sees the most relevant selection of them. 225 topics are now available for commenting on the portal, and we plan to expand this list, relying primarily on wishes of Muscovites,” said Alexander Pischelko, head of the State Public Institution “New Management Technologies”, responsible for development of the Our City portal.

In summer, users can report poor-quality lawn maintenance, weak plants in flower beds, lack of sand in the sandbox of the playground, and more. And in winter, Muscovites can complain poor snow and ice cleaning, insufficient courtyard rink maintenance, and much more.

Who helps solve problems

Users can send messages via the web version or a mobile application. To do this, one needs to put a point on the Moscow map and select the problem site. Then the user needs to find a suitable topic and report an issue, and, if possible, attach a photo. If there is no site on the map in the message entry form, or the information on the portal about it is incorrect, users can report this to the support service. The team of the Our City portal will send the information to the data provider for verification, and, if necessary, the information will be supplemented and corrected. If the desired topic was not found, users can suggest it using the "Didn't find the topic you want?" button.

The users’ requests are processed by editorial staff working seven days a week. On average, nine thousand messages from residents and responses to them from authorities or organizations are processed there every day. The editorial staff consists of professionals — moderators, analysts and methodologists.

The portal has a system for automatic distribution of requests to specialized services responsible for solving a specific issue, depending on the selected site property status, as well as the powers of authorities or organizations.

According to the regulations, the time for preparing a response to Our City is eight working days, but in practice, every second problem is solved within one or two working days. When Our City was not available, the Muscovites who applied to the executive authorities were waiting up to 30 days to have a response.

Now the resident who sent the message can track its status and receive replies with photos confirming elimination of the problem, as well as control the quality of the work performed — confirm or deny the problem fixing.

Our City portal output

The number of complains and issues resolved shows that over 10 years of such format of interaction with the authorities proved its convenience and effectiveness for Muscovites.

For example, within the framework of the theme "Uncleaned courtyard” thanks to users of Our City, almost 440 thousand issues of cleaning the territory close to residential buildings were resolved since 2011. In addition, the same period saw more than 290 thousand problems of lighting entrances, that were eliminated. Muscovites reported about them in the portal’s topic "Apartment building lighting failure."

Our City portal is planning to go on with its development. As early as the end of 2021 – beginning of 2022, it is planned to comprehensively update the Our City web version and mobile application. The design will be improved, and a number of technical and functional changes will make the portal even more user-friendly.

The Our City portal is developed by the State Public Institution "New Management Technologies" together with the Moscow Department of Information Technologies. It positively remarked not only by users, but by international experts at a professional level too. Thus, the portal was the winner of the World Smart City Awards in the category "City as a service platform" in 2015. Besides, the project was recognized as the winner of the 2016 Guangzhou International Urban Innovation Award for Public Engagement in Key Decisions.