Society№ 1 July 2018
Rapid advances in technology have accelerated the process of urbanisation. But as the number of city dwellers increases, so also do the requirements for the quality of the urban environment.
The creation of park areas in cities is nothing new. Parks not only enhance the cityscape but also make the people who live there more content, reducing social tension. It is hard to say that they are any kind of new invention.
In South Korea, city planners are now building a city fr om scratch. Songdo will be a smart city crammed with electronic infrastructure. But its creators are as concerned with ecology as digital technology and promise to make Songdo the greenest city in the world. It will be green in the figurative sense (making maximum use of environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and energy-saving technologies) and also in the literal sense: it is being built around a park zone, imitating New York’s Central Park, only larger.
More than 40% of the total urban area in Songdo will be parkland. The figure is not excessive for a city wh ere no large industrial facilities are planned. Nowadays, cities with less than 10% of their total area covered by vegetation are considered to be poorly landscaped, while 40% and higher is viewed as a good ratio.
Park areas are not just green spaces. They are also infrastructure for people to engage in recreation and self-development. Russia has its own traditions in this respect. In the West in the 20th century, recreation in parks was usually equated with leisure and entertainment. But in the USSR there was more emphasis on cultural and developmental pursuits. Parks were venues for special interest activities, sports, exhibitions, concerts and film showings. The best example of this peculiarly Russian approach is Moscow’s Central Park of Culture and Leisure (better known as Gorky Park), which was opened in the late 1920s.
It might be thought that the bigger the city, the more its inhabitants need parks. But this is not the case. Experts insist that any city, regardless of its size, needs green oases and they serve the city best as venues for creativity and self-development, not just for relaxation. Local budgets in small cities cannot always afford to provide these services, in which case major local employers must step in to help.
A fine example is the commitment of Metalloinvest to upgrade the municipal park in the town of Zheleznogorsk in the Kursk region, where many local people work at Mikhailovsky GOK. In 2015, to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first tonne of ore produced at Mikhailovsky GOK, Metalloinvest financed the construction in the park of a multipurpose children’s playground with over 30 different structures for children to enjoy themselves and develop their physical skills. In summer 2017 the company restored the park fountain and equipped it with a lighting system.
Last autumn a skate park was opened in Zheleznogorsk for young people to hone their skills on stunt bikes, roller skates, skateboards and scooters.
What was important in this project was the lively and direct interaction between citizens and the team of park designers. This enabled local people to get a better idea of how the park would be built, and gave the designers a clear idea of what people wanted. One product of this interaction was an open-air display area, where work by local artists, photographers and students of the Zheleznogorsk art college and art school can be exhibited.
head of the department for external social programmes at Mikhailovsky GOK
Metalloinvest launched another park renovation project in Novotroitsk, home to Ural Steel. The refurbishment of the Novotroitsk town park is carried out as part of the socio-economic partnership between Metalloinvest, the Orenburg regional government and the administration of Novotroitsk. The project, which received financial support fr om Metalloinvest, was developed by the ‘New Land’ architectural firm and approved by the town’s residents.
Metalloinvest upgrade the municipal park in the town of Zheleznogorsk in the Kursk region, wh ere many local people work at Mikhailovsky GOK
In 2015, children’s playgrounds and small sculptures were installed in the park. The park has undergone general improvement works – the entrance, central fountain, fencing, water pipes, sewage system and lighting have been repaired, and the central path has been tarmacked. Over the next two years, the open-air dance floor and cinema were refurbished, the tracks and lighting and irrigation systems were installed, and the central lawn was sown. Since the autumn of 2016, more than three thousand trees and bushes have been planted in the park, from ornamental to fruit trees, and there are now plans to create an orchard.
The Park in Novotroitsk has become a favorite recreation place the town residents
According to the managing partner of PwC Russia Igor Lotakov, the harmonious development of cities calls for integrated solutions that take account of environmental, political and socio-economic features of the locality. The creation and maintenance of parks therefore merits joint efforts on a large scale by politicians, business, local government and city residents. A PwC study, "Cities of Opportunity 6", found that being able to take a walk in a park remains one of the main criteria by which people assess the quality of their urban environment. It reflects the level of a city’s development and its ability to provide quality of life and health.
When discussing the more practical aspects of the issue, particularly the technologies and materials used in the creation of contemporary amusement park infrastructure, experts primarily note the high quality and technical standards required for the metals and alloys considered indispensable by builders and designers. Metals are used in the most heavy-duty mechanisms in fairground rides, which are found in every modern amusement park.
Alessandro Zossa, Head of the Russian office of SBF-VISA Group, an Italian amusement ride producer, comments: “The global trend for these is to increase in size, with some having been built at over 200 metres tall. Enormous components are required to build these gigantic wheels, which are also built exclusively from metals and alloys. This is driven by the fact that the increased height of Ferris wheels means that they have to withstand stronger winds, as well as have greater seismic stability.”
Rollercoasters are the undisputed leader in terms of metal content, and are built almost entirely from a wide array of steel structures. Ferris wheels are another major metal consumer
The proportion of metal components in amusement rides is increasing, as this boosts safety standards, requirements for which are rising. Alessandro Zossa adds: “Our industry is fairly conservative – I have not heard of a case in which metal parts have been replaced by another material, such as a composite, in heavy load-bearing structures and components. In my opinion, this is not happening because alternative materials have not demonstrated their reliability, and engineers continue to place more trust in solutions that have been tried and tested over decades of reliable operation. Additionally, as far as I am aware, the Russian metals industry is traditionally a strong sector, and we have never heard any complaints from our Russian colleagues regarding metal products.”
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