Bird’s-eye view of Tallinn

Estonia: The Country in the Cloud

Estonia is considered a pioneer in the area of digitization. People there benefit from a wide range of digital solutions – solutions that are easily accessible and can be used by anyone. We had a look at how things are done on site. Why has digitization in Estonia been so successful? Here’s your chance to find out – by getting to know a country in the cloud.

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In order to award the 2017 Reinhard Mohn Prize on “Smart Country – Connected. Intelligent. Digital.” the project team searched for the best digital practices and applications worldwide. They focused on a number of areas such aswork and the economy, health and care, policy and public administration, mobility and logistics, and learning and information. A key part of the process was research carried out on site in select countries. In addition to Estonia, the team travelled to Sweden, Austria and Israel.

For more than two decades, Estonia has been actively shaping digitization. The change process has been accepted throughout the country and supported by forward-looking policy decisions that put the necessary framework in place. One of the people leading the way was former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the recipient of this year’s Reinhard Mohn Prize. Ilves is being recognized for his pioneering work promoting digitization in government, education and public services.

During the many conversations we had in Estonia with policy makers, public administrators and business leaders, we discovered that, when it comes to digitization, the country is home to a positive culture of trial and error, one that encourages people to try things out and learn by doing.

The result is that many exemplary digital solutions have now become an integral part of daily life in Estonia. People can access government services and deal with bureaucratic tasks using digital applications which are as innovative as they are simple – thereby making the relevant services and tasks easily accessible by everyone in the country. Everything can be done digitally, with just a few exceptions: getting married, getting divorced and buying a house.

We have also visualized key facts and figures about the four countries we visited in order to better illustrate the conditions they faced in becoming digital. As a point of comparison, we have included the same information for Germany.