Deciphering Estonia: how does it lead in digital transformation?
TAIPEI, China, Oct. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- When the epidemic hit Europe, many EU countries came to a halt, but only Estonia could calmly deal with external challenges and crises, and maintain the daily operations of public and private sectors. Looking into the key factors, it can be attributed to Estonia's digital transformation, starting as early as the early '90s.
The 2021 Taiwan Innovation Expo (TIE) invited Estonia to share the Baltic country's thoughts on promoting digital transformation and development. Fusionmedium served as the media partner of the event. Estonia was once rated as "the world's most advanced digital society" by the well-known technology magazine "WIRED".
According to Anett Numa, a digital transformation consultant of the 'e-estonia briefing center', 99% of Estonian government services could be accessed online during the pandemic, including business registrations, social welfare applications, and so on. Moreover, citizens have become accustomed to it, given the easy smartphone access to all services.
An e-ID is the most critical element in digital government services: through electronic IDs, the government could quickly provide services to the people. Dr. Arvo Ott, Director of e-Government Technologies of Estonian 'e-Governance Academy', said that as early as 2002, Estonia had begun to issue electronic ID cards, and each Estonian resident has an e-ID which stores personal electronic signatures for identity verifications.
Numa also indicated that the Estonian government combined the public and private sectors to develop various digitl services, including electronic health insurance, electronic drug prescriptions, and online bank account. In Estonia, with the exception of marriage and divorce procedures, even real estate transactions can be completed online.
Estonia is committed to providing every citizen with "digital rights". In addition to the existing e-government measures, it has also expanded free internet services and increased domestic broadband speed.
The most important policy was to prioritize the government's own digitalization. Estonia's huge data information exchange system, X-Road, marks one of these efforts: the personal information left by the users in government agencies and private sectors can be collected in the X-Road database. As long as user authorizations and consents are obtained, the X-Road database allows government agencies and private sectors access into private and public database. Data sharing significantly facilitated processing.
To gain public support and trust, the various electronic services of digital governments also need to be transparent and publicly accessible. When a suspected security loophole is discovered, the Estonian government hosts an open dialogue with the public and manufacturers to ensure the public support of e-ID. Estonia also publishes the e-ID system source code on developer platforms, allowing the public to identify and report loopholes.
In addition to security issues, government surveillance is also a top concern. X-Road also includes blockchain technology and has established a Personal Data Usage Monitor. When a government official enters the X-Road system to check people's information, they will leave a record. The public can therefore check at any time which information was accessed by which government agency. If one believes that the government uses personal data improperly, one can file a court case to protect privacy.
Estonia's digital government is all about cooperation and reciprocities. Government departments cooperate with each other to promote digitalization and win the trust of users. For users, they are also willing to fully disclose their personal information to the government and enjoy various electronic services in return.
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