In the last 20 years, Estonia has managed to achieve tremendous success in combining various information and communication technologies with local and central governance. Starting from the ambitious “Tiger Leap” programme in 1997, which kick-started Estonia’s transformation to the e-state by bringing students together with computers and internet from a very early age, and ending with the development of inter-organizational data exchange layer “X-Road”, Estonia has invested smartly into developing a fully functioning e-infrastructure.
The key to Estonia’s e-Infrastructure is the ID card. Introduced in 2002, the Estonian ID card now serves as a multifunctional tool for accessing various e-solutions and government databases as well as digitally signing documents and casting votes using any internet-connected computer from anywhere in the world. The ID card is daily used as a legal travel identification within the EU and Schengen area; as a national health insurance card; as proof of identification when logging into bank accounts from a home computer; as a pre-paid public transport ticket; for picking up e-Prescriptions from the pharmacy and also for logging into Estonian E-Tax Board to file taxes. In 2013, 95% of people declared their income electronically.
e-Estonia has also services meant for the executive branch of the government. Since 2000, Estonia’s government has been using the Information System of Government Sessions, better known as e-Cabinet, which is a multi-user database and scheduler that keeps relevant information organized and updated in real time, giving ministers a clear overview of each item under discussion. As a result, government session time and the need for printing and delivering thousands of documents was reduced. Because e-Cabinet uses web-based software and audio-visual equipment, ministers can take part remotely.
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