How the year hit by the coronavirus changed the lives of Russians
Across the country, new contactless technologies are being introduced, cameras are now detecting the wearing of masks, and innovative medical industries and start-ups have mushroomed.
Many of these technologies were designed before the pandemic, but only began to actively develop in 2020. How has the daily life of Russians changed, besides the need to wear masks and gloves?
1. Medical technology
In the new intensive care unit for coronavirus patients in Moscow.
Maxim Mishin / Sputnik
As of March 30, 2021, Moscow was among the Top 3 anti-Covid innovation centers, according to an international think tank StartupBlink, behind only San Francisco and New York. The scoring compilers included factors such as self-isolation index, the development of telemedicine (to monitor patients), the use of artificial intelligence to recognize Covid pneumonia, and, of course, the creation of the Sputnik V vaccine, which is now used throughout Russia and abroad.
Production of contactless disinfectants in Yekaterinburg.
Pavel Lisitsyn / Sputnik
During the pandemic, not only did new specialist hospitals have to be set up in record time, but the problem of quickly identifying infected people and putting in place means of protection had to be solved. New production facilities to combat the coronavirus have started to appear, aided by low-interest loans. In its own words, the Industrial Development Fund (IDF), established for the modernization of Russian industry, launched a special program for these manufacturers in March 2020, and has already issued 114 loans worth more than 33.5 billion rubles ($ 443 million): “It targets the most needed products: rapid coronavirus tests, ventilators, antiseptics, equipment personal protection, antiviral drugs, recirculators for air disinfection, thermal cameras, etc. an IDF spokesperson said.
2. No more contactless shopping
A customer at the first Pyaterochka #naletu [on-the-go] supermarket without cashier.
Artyom Geodakyan / TASS
Even in small towns in Russia, cash is no longer required for shopping or taking public transport. In the year of the pandemic, the share of non-cash payments increased to 70% (up 6% from the previous year), and the percentage of contactless payments using of mobile devices has also increased. According to at the NAFI Analysis Center, 26% of Russians made a payment using a smartphone or smartwatch in February 2020, rising to 32% in February 2021; at the same time, the number of bank card holders remained unchanged on 82% of citizens.
To minimize personal contact, stores have started installing self-service checkouts en masse. For example, the largest Russian retailer X5 Retail Group (which includes supermarket chains Pyaterochka and Perekrestok) installed more than 6,000 terminals of this type in stores (a year earlier there were about ten), and fully automated stores have even appeared.
3. Facial recognition
Facial recognition terminal at the Russian State Geological Exploration University.
Sofia Sandurskaya / Moskva Agency
Facial recognition cameras have been experimented with in Russian cities for several years, mainly to identify violators (for example, in the Moscow metro, cameras have been installed on turnstiles to compare images of passengers with a database of the police). However, in 2020 facial recognition has become more often used to register company employees and university students, and some gadgets are able to detect whether a person is wearing a mask or has a temperature.
Main cafe in Moscow with a biometric payment terminal.
Vasily Kuzmichenok / TASS
The next step is to pay according to the features of the face. Such payment terminals have been installed in some shops and cafes in Moscow, and their number is only increasing. For this, customers of banks and payment systems must consent to the storage of their biometric data.
In Moscow public transport, it is now allowed to ride only with a mask.
Sergei Fadeichev / TASS
New Facial payment system should also be operational in the Moscow metro by the end of 2021. Facial recognition cameras are already installed at the turnstiles in the halls of stations.
4. Total delivery
Moscow during the spring 2020 containment.
Alexander Avilov / Moskva Agency
For the service and restaurant industry, 2020 has not been great, to put it mildly: more than 200 cafes firm down in the center of Moscow alone (35% more than in 2019) and in St. Petersburg the figure was double. Overall, restaurant sales in the country fell 45% year on year.
That said, food stores and establishments have started signing up on delivery aggregators or launching their own take-out services. Over the year, the proportion of restaurants offering delivery grew up from 40% to 58% in the regions and from 51% to 66% in Moscow. At the start of 2020, the X5 Retail Group stores book several hundred orders per day, reaching 40,000 at the end of the year. One of the most successful companies is Samokat, which has a network of warehouses and delivers products in 15 minutes: in 2020, the company’s turnover increase 20 times!
People who lost their jobs due to isolation (the unemployment rate in 2020 Pink nearly 25%, or 5.9% of the working-age population), have instead found work as couriers: demand triple at national scale.
5. Hybrid operation
Some Russians still work from home.
Alexander Avilov / Moskva Agency
As of March 2021, a third of Russians who switched to working from home had not returned. Of those who had returned to the office, only half were working as usual, while the rest had switched to a hybrid mode, according to a study by Rabota.ru. And 53% of Russian companies intend to switch to hybrid operation. “From an economic standpoint, the ideal situation for an employer is full teleworking, as this cuts down on office and other expenses. said Boris Dobrodeyev, director of the IT company Mail.ru Group. “But we are not guided only by the economy, but by how best to motivate our employees to work.”
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