Estonia: Start-up central
In 1991 Estonia became an independent country. Its new leaders saw a future in code and algorithms: an e-government that would serve its people digitally and change the way citizens and government interact with one another.
This created a supportive environment for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups. Estonia – a small country of just over 1 million people – was the birthplace of Skype, and is home to a large number of start-ups.
Every citizen of Estonia has a digital identity, which allows them to use about 600 municipal and state services online: to access medical records and prescriptions, file taxes, or register a business. Education is also managed online. Since 2014 it has been possible for non-Estonians to become e-residents and benefit from the country’s digital governance.
Trust and Privacy
Estonians are in control of their own personal data, and can see online which officials have viewed their information. It is against the law to view someone’s data without their permission, and private and government agencies must request access. Estonians report a high level of digital trust.
But Estonia’s e-society is not perfect. Only half of those aged 65 and over are internet users, meaning some are excluded. Technology can also be expensive, reducing access to those on lower incomes.
27% of UK homes now have “superfast” broadband – with a connection of 30 Mbit/s or more. Superfast broadband in rural areas is now available to 37% of premises across the UK.
The government has set out plans to give everyone a legal right to request a 10 Mbps connection by 2020.
Start-ups which want to offer cyber security solutions will be able to get support through an “Early Stage Accelerator Programme”. The initiative is aimed towards increasing cyber security start-up development in the UK.
The widespread adoption of mobiles has enabled the country to sidestep paying for expensive physical IT infrastructure.
Mobile phones are used in Cameroon to track patients and remind them about appointments and vaccination schedules.
Rural farmers receive text messages with information to help improve the productivity of their land and boost their incomes, and to provide information about available subsidies.
The mobile phone “call box” had been a popular business – where people would pay to use a mobile. Now more people can afford their own handsets, these call boxes have been broadened into businesses where people fix and adapt mobiles in innovate ways – for example fitting two Sim cards so users can switch across call plans.
South Korea has the highest average connection speed in the world and is expected to be the first country in the world to launch 5G, which would allow a whole film to be downloaded in less than a second.
More than 83% of South Korea’s 50 million people use the internet, and the numbers are increasing.
Live television can be streamed in many public areas, including on the subway and in taxis.
Dubbed the start-up nation, Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world outside Silicon Valley.
Medical records are online, and have been for about 20 years, meaning there is a huge amount of medical data.
Israel undertook a major review of computing at school in the 1990s and introduced a rigorous computer science high school programme. Coding is taught widely in schools, and extra-curricular coding clubs are common.
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