Despite over 60% of the country being covered by forest, Estonia (a country of only 1.3 million people) has become a world leader in eID, eGoverment , and eHealth, building a streamlined digital infrastructure both for public and private services.
In many ways, this country, a former cog in the Soviet machine, has become a pioneer and example to others all over the world. The full extent of Estonia’s adoption of digital innovation can be seen in our special report: Putting the E in Estonia. However, in the meantime, here are a few things you can do in Estonia that you can’t yet do in the US or UK:.
- Register a birth online – In Estonia, you can log on to the state web portal to register a birth. Quoted in our report, Kadri Bank, when referring to her newly born daughter, said: “It (the state web portal) was where we officially named her. We filed the forms for child benefit payments, and then we checked through the web portal to see if the officials had received our forms, looked through them and approved them.” For Estonians like Kadri, it seems bizarre that citizens in other countries use pen and paper to communicate with officials.
- Use an eID – The Estonian eID card is the cornerstone of the country’s public key infrastructure (PKI), allowing citizens to use secure services online. It’s secure and easy to use – all people need to use one is a card reader. And if you don’t have one of those, don’t worry; most Estonian computers come with one built in. It seems everyone in the Estonian tech sector is on the same page. To support the eID card, Estonia even has a Digi-ID card as well, a secondary eID card for frequent users that can only be used online, rather than in person.
- Validate a document legally using a digital signature – So many of us are still toiling away with old fashioned ink signatures in the rest of the world, while Estonians are enjoying the ease of digital validation. Here’s what they have to say about it:-
- Enjoy hassle-free healthcare – Estonia has built a countrywide eHealth platform, allowing laboratories to send a particular person’s medical information to one place; doctors who are then granted access privileges can log in wherever they are and get the latest results. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that 95% of prescriptions were issued electronically in Estonia in 2013.
- Experience fast internet…everywhere – Estonia was one of the first countries in the world to introduce large public wireless internet areas, with the first appearing in 2001. Since 2001, Estonia has never looked back; free Wi-Fi was everywhere well before many other countries had fully embraced Wi-Fi in offices. In Estonia, it’s hard not to find good quality Wi-Fi, whether you’re in cafés, restaurants, schools and even parks!