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Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 04:28

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ESTONIA ON THE WAY TO THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

The eagerness with which the Estonians apply up-to-date IT solutions clearly points to a high level of e-readiness in our people as well as to the conviction that modern technology can contribute to the construction of better and more efficient society.

 

Nationwide communications infrastructure is developing fast in Estonia. Infrastructure, however, does not constitute an aim in itself – an increase in productivity, which speeds up economic growth and, thus, improves the quality of life, greatly depends on the clever deployment of solutions, services and content based on the underlying infrastructure.

 

Internet and mobile use in Estonia is high, contributing to the attainment of critical mass of users that is vital for the development of e-services. E-services are provided both by the public and the private sector. An example of a particularly successful public eservice in Estonia is the option available to tax payers to submit income tax declarations electronically – in 2004, 78% of Estonian taxpayers opted for the online pre-filled method over the paperbased one.

 

The most significant nationwide IT projects are:

 

ID card

 

To realise real savings from the implementation of e-services, both in terms of time and money, a national ID card project was initiated in Estonia in 1998. A smartcard was introduced, the functions of which are twofold: it can be used for personal identification purposes and for giving digital signatures. Unlike in some other countries, Estonia proceeded in the development of its ID card from the principle that the ID card itself would not contain any other data than that necessary for the identification of a person while all other information would be stored in different information systems. One of the most recent ID card based services launched in Estonia is the e-ticket for public transport. This is an electronic ticket the validity of which is verified with the ID card from information systems eliminating, thus, the need for a paper ticket. In addition, preparations are underway for the use of ID card as means for checking the existence of health insurance and the right to drive a vehicle. The concept of the ID card as well as the software (DigiDoc) necessary for giving the digital signature have been developed by Estonian specialists. For more information see: http://www.id.ee

 

X-Road

 

In order to perform their duties, citizens, enterprises and civil servants need data from different state registers and databases. As many databases were created independently of each other, and were therefore not interoperable, data exchange between them was often complicated. With the aim of integrating all the state registers and information systems and allowing the provision of e-services through a common interface, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched a project called X-Road, a secure web-based data exchange layer, which provides access to the data of state registers through a unified interface. For more information see: http://x-tee.riik.ee

 

eCitizen

 

While in a traditional society, the citizen has to go from one state agency to another in order to complete various paperwork, exploitation of modern technology can make the state considerably citizen-friendlier. The objective of the eCitizen project is to provide the citizens with the option to communicate with the state via a 24/7 operating “one-shop-stop”. The eCitizen information portal at http://www.eesti.ee contains information about citizens’ rights and obligations throughout their life cycle from birth to death. Accessing the citizen portal requires authorisation either with the ID card or internet bank codes after which it is possible to submit digitally signed forms to state  agencies and perform other tasks necessary for the communication with the state.

 

More information about the development of the information society and innovation system in Estonia can be found at: http://www.esis.ee