On December 17th, President of the Russian Geographical Society, Sergey Shoigu, met with Yandex Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Tigran Khudaverdyan, and Yandex Head of Strategy, Alexei Fedotov.
In October 2019, Tigran Khudaverdyan became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society. This was an occasion to discuss already promising joint projects.
“There are projects that we have already done together with Yandex,” Sergei Shoigu noted. “They are interesting. For example, placing on Yandex maps panoramas of 11 Franz Josef Land islands. It is a lot of work, but by Yandex standards it`s nothing. I really hope that ahead of us is a big, interesting, and, most importantly, necessary work. "
First of all, the Russian Geographical Society and Yandex will jointly engage in educational projects. For example, the service “Яндекс.Учебник” (“Yandex.Texbook”) , will soon have new subjects, including geography. The Russian Geographical Society will help Yandex in the preparation of study materials.
“Today, already 17 thousand teachers across the country use the “Яндекс.Учебник” (“Yandex.Textbook”) service to give assignments to children. So far, “Яндекс.Учебник” (“Yandex.Textbook”) has only math and Russian, but we plan to add geography there,” said Tigran Khudaverdyan.
It is planned that, with the help of experts from the Russian Geographical Society, multimedia tests on knowledge of geography will be created both for primary school students (grades 1–4) and for students in grades 5–9.
The preparation of plans for geography classes with guidelines for teachers is also discussed. With these ready-made plans, a teacher of any high school in Russia will be able to conduct a geography lesson on a given topic in his/her class.
“Яндекс.Учебник” (“Yandex.Textbook”) is an educational website for teachers and students. Currently, it hosts more than 35,000 assignments in mathematics and the Russian language for students in grades 1–5. In addition, the site hosts ready-made lesson plans that can be used by a teacher of any high school in Russia.
Another area of cooperation is joint work to standardize place names on Yandex.Maps. The idea is, in particular, that the maps should show the historical names of geographical locations that were given to them by Russian discoverers centuries and decades ago.
This topic was raised in 2018 by the Board of Trustees Chairman of the Russian Geographical Society, President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. He drew attention, for example, to the names of islands off the coast of Antarctica. "Today, only a few know that the historical name of Smith Island is Borodino, that Snow Island is Maloyaroslavets. And Livingston Island is actually Smolensk. And so on and so forth. But in 2020 we will celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica. It was made by Russian sailors, "said Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society.
The Russian Geographical Society has almost the largest cartographic fund in the country; and in its archives there are about 40 thousand unique historical atlases and maps. This collection has been forming since the foundation of the Society in 1845. In addition, the Russian Geographical Society owns vast modern geographic databases.
The RGS is ready to give to Yandex geoservices the data obtained during the numerous expeditions of the Society, including those to hard-to-reach places. The RGS and Yandex already have a similar experience of interaction. The panoramas of 11 islands of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, mentioned by Sergey Shoigu, were made in 2014 as part of an expedition of the Russian Geographical Society.
Tigran Khudaverdyan confirmed Yandex’s interest in working together to improve maps. Yandex created the Yandex.Maps service 15 years ago. There was a desire to digitize reality so that people quickly found addresses. But today our country is undergoing digital transformation. And it turned out that maps are not just maps, but a fundamental service for this transformation. Among the projects with the Russian Geographical Society, there are those where we are considering working together on the uniformity of the toponym use on maps," Khudaverdyan noted.
Yandex is also ready to support the educational and enlightenment actions of the Russian Geographical Society, the main purpose of which is to popularize geographical knowledge and increase interest in the subject among schoolchildren and students . Yandex, in particular, may become a partner of the RGS in conducting competitions in geography and Geographical dictation.
“There is a desire to make a Geographical dictation and a geographic competition for schoolchildren using Yandex technology,” said Tigran Khudaverdyan.
The Geographical Dictation is an international educational event held annually since 2015. Over five years, more than 1.3 million people took part in it. In 2019, the Dictation was held in 107 countries of the world, it was written by about 500 thousand people.
During the meeting, Sergei Shoigu presented Tigran Khudaverdyan and Alexei Fedotov with membership cards of the Russian Geographical Society.