The e-State of Estonia

New Yorker:
Estonia, the Digital Republic

Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?

...
... Today, citizens can vote from their laptops and challenge parking tickets from home. They do so through the “once only” policy, which dictates that no single piece of information should be entered twice. Instead of having to “prepare” a loan application, applicants have their data—income, debt, savings—pulled from elsewhere in the system. There’s nothing to fill out in doctors’ waiting rooms, because physicians can access their patients’ medical histories. Estonia’s system is keyed to a chip-I.D. card that reduces typically onerous, integrative processes—such as doing taxes—to quick work. “If a couple in love would like to marry, they still have to visit the government location and express their will,” Andrus Kaarelson, a director at the Estonian Information Systems Authority, says. But, apart from transfers of physical property, such as buying a house, all bureaucratic processes can be done online.

... Digitizing processes reportedly saves the state two per cent of its G.D.P. a year in salaries and expenses. Since that’s the same amount it pays to meet the nato threshold for protection (Estonia—which has a notably vexed relationship with Russia—has a comparatively small military), its former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves liked to joke that the country got its national security for free.

Other benefits have followed. “If everything is digital, and location-independent, you can run a borderless country,” Kotka said. In 2014, the government launched a digital “residency” program, which allows logged-in foreigners to partake of some Estonian services, such as banking, as if they were living in the country. Other measures encourage international startups to put down virtual roots; Estonia has the lowest business-tax rates in the European Union, and has become known for liberal regulations around tech research. It is legal to test Level 3 driverless cars (in which a human driver can take control) on all Estonian roads, and the country is planning ahead for Level 5 (cars that take off on their own). “We believe that innovation happens anyway,” Viljar Lubi, Estonia’s deputy secretary for economic development, says. “If we close ourselves off, the innovation happens somewhere else.”
...
There is much more.

The population of Estonia is relatively small by US standards at 1.3 million people.This is a fraction of the population of the City of Houston and the entire country would probably fit inside the Houston Grand Parkway.  But it is an interesting experiment that seems to be working for them.  I suspect that in the US there would be many who would resist the government having this much data about their lives.   If the Russians did invade Estonia would the data become a guidepost for chasing down any resistance?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Democrats worried about 2018 elections

Obama's hidden corruption that enriched his friends

The Christmas of the survivors of Trump's first year in office?