5 things you can do in Estonia, which you can’t do in the US or UK

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:.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:-

  1. 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.
  1. 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!

What do you think of Estonia’s digital revolution? Make sure you read the full report here, and let us know by tweeting to us @Gemalto.

3 thoughts on “5 things you can do in Estonia, which you can’t do in the US or UK

  1. This is utter nonsense. Yes, many things can be done online, but it’s not hassle-free. Not many computers come with pre-installed ID-card hardware, the software is of limited availability and certs itself are known to be broken (https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=532048). E-health is notoriously broken (actually, there is not one but at least THREE eHealths, all major hospitals have their own as the main one is not that usable).

    Fast internet… yeah, good luck with that in rural areas. Even in cities, landline is not available in all places, and the quality varies. This article tries to make an impression like in Estonia, in all areas there is fast internet available. NOT. Providers have cut down the volume of the mobile internet to ridiculously low numbers, especially for new subscribers.

    And as the eBanking is introduced, possibilities to get hold to your money in banknotes is less and less available.

    And not to mention eElections, this is probably the one and only IT solution on the Earth that, according to governement officials, is never been compromised and can’t hacked into, cant be manipulated and is written and operated by Gods themselves.

    So, please stop praising and start constructive ctiticism.

    1. Interesting to hear your point of view and agree that constructive criticism is a powerful way to drive change and improvement in government digital services. For us, and the reason we wrote this piece and the supporting long-form piece http://review.gemalto.com/estonia/ was because – even with any limitations and shortcomings – we believe there is a lot the world can learn from the way Estonia has embraced digital services. We are in constant conversation with Governments around the world on the best ways to drive new, secure digital services that bring new capabilities to their citizens and businesses, and there can never be too much best-practice sharing in our view.

    2. I understand how you can be upset with what seems to you as a misrepresentation of you country. Maybe because you think it undermines awareness of things that need improvement, maybe because you would like the article to be more precise or something in that sense. But from your comments, it seems to me like its a little bit of the article making things seem too perfect and, with all due respect, a little bit of you being unaware of how the conventional rest of the world works. I live in São Paulo, a major city in the world, and practically none of those things are available here. Systems don’t “talk” to each other, city, state and federal government are redundant and bureaucracy takes a toll on doing business and daily life in general. Half decent internet is expensive, free internet doesn’t exist. ID’s are made of paper, so are our drivers’licenses, our document of registry The Brazilian Federal Revenue is plastic. If you want to issue a passport or apply for a job, you are likely to have to provide certified copies of your paper ID, your paper drives license, your plastic CPF, your paper military registration, a proof of address, your birth certificate, marriage license, Employees record book, which is also an official document, your Electoral document (for voting), and proof that you voted in the past 2 elections (this one you can get online – yay) and probably a few things I’m forgetting.
      So I get that Estonia probably has a long way to go in many areas. But I feel like these are major advances in making the government machine more seamless, thus making daily life easier in many aspects. There’s a place to grow from whereas in many countries the very ideas of such systems have yet to be conceived.
      And not to be unfair to Brazil, some states have adopted a few online systems and they make life so much easier, that the day we move towards some of these things Estonia has, however you feel about them, I think will be a good day for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *