Friday, 17 June 2016

13. blog post ENG

Social innovation around us

E-country – future is already here

Hi, this is Aivar, and I would like to tell you about my country - Estonia! Our small country made huge progress in developing e-technologies. I would like to present one of our best-known innovative movements – “e-Estonia”. When Estonia restored its independence we hadn’t a lot of resources to organize our government as in Western Europe. Our government decided that using Internet and digital technologies will reduce expenses. Nowadays over 60 million dollars were spent to develop our digital technologies which improved the level of life of the locals. This is a really small amount. For example, UK spends annually more money on digital technologies than Estonia’s GDP! And look at us now - Estonia was the first country that held ellections online. We were also the first to make an online population census and offered e-residence for foreigners all over the world.

Of course, everything wasn’t so clear and easy. We had a lot of difficulties on the way. The main question was: how to provide people personal data security? In Estonia, there is no united service with personal data but different institutions have partial access. The governmental organisations exchange information using the X-road service. All exchanges can be seen by ordinary users of the governmental portal, so data theft is impossible.

I think education is very important and in my opinion should come first. From the end of the 90-s all the schools in Estonia have had access to the Internet. This is all part of the governmental programme Tiigrihüppe“ („Tiger’s leap“), that teaches students basic computer skills and programming. Also for more than 10 years the majority of Estonian schools use e-diary „eKool“ („eSchool“). It is a school management tool, that brings together students and their families, school administration and supervision. „eKool“ is the first and the largest online school information platform in Estonia - more than 200 000 active users and 1 million grades entered daily! Our government also supports programmes for old people. In 2009 the “Ole kaasas” (“Be involved”) programme was launched. Thanks to this more than 40 000 people were taught to use the computer. This educational programmes are the most valuable things in our e-country movement.

Another modern Estonian invention is the ID-card. A digital identity card is a smart card that we use for authentication online and offline. All ID-cards have a chip which contains all the information about the owner. There are more than 4000 services on the Internet, things like paying taxes for example, that are free to use for the ID-card owner. Now ID-cards are also integrated to SIM-cards and with just one click – you can use all the services.

Well-developed systems of electronic services facilitate life in Estonia. I think that in the future our country will start helping others to join the movement. Our government predicts that in the year 2025 the amount of e-residences from foreign countries will reach the number of 10 million. Opening governmental websites and bank services for foreigners, Estonia would like to attract more businessmen to register their companies in our country.

To sum up I would like to say, that our e-services are constantly adapting to the eternally changing conditions of modern life. I hope that the level of electronic services will improve not only in Estonia but in the rest of the world too. I think that we are on a great path and I am looking forward to where it leads us! I would also like to give a small recommendation on how to be a social innovator. If we use the example of Estonia – be open to crazy ideas, be a leader and find your own path! Be active and most importantly – never listen, when they say you are too small to be the first in the world in something innovative.

This blog is a part of the project Empowering Youth To Become Social Innovators, realised under the Erasmus+ partnership programme. The project is coordinated by a Czech NGO DYNAMA, z.s., seated in Brno and an Estonian NGO Youth Club Active, seated in Tallinn. This project contributes to the development of non formal learning of the youth.

1 comment:

  1. It is extremely inspiring to read about the achievements of Estonia! The article is very well written - thank you, Aivar. Anna