My admiration about Estonia increased after I came across the Forbes article on the country's giant strides in the internet space. A few of my friends who visit Estonia regularly confirmed these impressions about the country. We earlier covered in this blog,What Estonia seems to have done is way beyond what can be even imagined to come out of a country which acheived independence just 13 years back wherein we noted:
- Internet and mobile phone usage per capita, for instance, is higher in Estonia than it is in France.
- Over half of all Estonians now pay for their street parking spaces automatically, using their mobile phones. The same system flopped when Estonian Mobile Telephone's technology was marketed in Oslo, which is not exactly backward technologically.
- And Swedish companies often test ideas first in Estonia, since Estonians are known to have a heartier appetite for change than even the forward-thinking Swedes.
- 52% of Estonians use the Net regularly.
- The government runs its Thursday-morning cabinet meetings on computer, and it is close to doing away with paper altogether. Sessions that used to take most of a day now take half an hour as ministers politely tap out their comments instead of grandstanding.
- Next year the official record of government business will no longer be printed on paper, except for a single copy for the archives. It will exist solely on the Web.
The technology under-the-hood behing P2P products like Skype & Kaaza were all developed in Estonia.
Infoworld quotes Tallo,the well known Estonia's man on the country's intenet scene says countries don't have to be large, wealthy, or have a long history of freedom and stability to move to the higher ranks of Internet and IT usage. He claims that Estonia may qualify as the most wirelessly wired nation on earth. The government had a program to give free Internet access to all public libraries, which in turn give it to the public for free. It also has wireless Internet almost everywhere. Virtually all pubs, restaurants, hotels in Tallinn and elsewhere have wireless access. Many pubs provide this as a free service, or you have places where the mobile operators provide a wireless service. In the case of Estonia he explains that the technology came first, people concentrated on technology. But the solutions are more in people's heads, to change the way we actually operate the government. Estonia started the Tiger Leap project in the mid-90s to connect all schools to the Internet and finished it by 2000. Big countries like the U.K. haven't started it yet from the government side. He is frank to admit that the usage levels are low and for basic services just around 10% usage is recorded. He points out that there are 700 free public Internet access points around the country. The government had a program to give free Internet access to all public libraries, which in turn give it to the public for free. It also has wireless Internet almost everywhere. Virtually all pubs, restaurants, hotels in Tallinn and elsewhere have wireless access. Many pubs provide this as a free service, or you have places where the mobile operators provide a wireless service Amazing to note that the true opportunity to leverage technology to leap forward a nation on the whole and the internet technology as a great leveller have been well used by Estonia - for a determined society with a vision tecnology provides more opportunites towards prosperity.
Estonia, Emerging Trends