Estonia to invest heavily in information, communication technology in 2017
The Estonian government has approved the implementation plan of the Estonian Information Society Development Plan 2020, according to which 50.4 million Euros will be allocated to the development of the field of information and communication technology in 2017.
The main focus of the implementation plan is on national e-services and the development of a basic fast internet network across Estonia as well as contributing to international data exchange through the X-road and the work of the Estonian data embassy in Luxembourg, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication said.
Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo said that the priority of the implementation plan is to cut down on red tape and move towards automatic e-services and faster data exchange for the consumer. "We are investing into the expansion of the use of the X-road to increase the automatic data exchange between the public and private sector. For this, we need to merge more and more businesses with the X-road as we have done with banks and telecom businesses today," she said.
The minister said that easier data exchange will give both the state as well as the business operators an opportunity to develop services that work fully automatically. "A good example of the nearly automatic e-service functioning as a result of the cooperation between the private and public sector is the filing of tax returns. The tax return has been filled in by the Tax and Customs Board in advance, while at the same time additional information can be added to it from the bank. Cooperation is also being carried out so that more and more private sector and national services can be accessed using the ID card and mobile ID."
In developing the information society in the next few years, the main focus will be on finalizing the construction of the new generation basic internet network. "The basic network will predominantly be completed already next year, after which the plan is to build the so-called "last mile", which is to add businesses, institutions and households which remain to be connected to the connection points," Palo said. Altogether approximately 12.5 million Euros will be invested in the basic network in 2017 and the plan is to build a total of 1,113 kilometres of new network in Estonia.
In order to make the services of the public sector and paperless administration more comfortable and cost-effective, over 18 million Euros will be invested in the harmonization of data exchange, development of the eesti. ee platform and the development of services concerning the field of tax and customs and the modernization of services necessary for producing registry-based statistics and services aimed at e-residents. By fall of this year, the testing period of the state cloud concept will end and the web environment will be fully usable.
In addition, of the projects currently under development, the implementation plan also focuses on the backup of data at the data embassy in Luxembourg. Estonia is the first country in the world which starting from next year will keep a backup of critical data in a foreign country, protected by diplomatic rights. The estimated investment cost for the given project in 2017 is 2.5 million Euros. In addition, an Estonian and Finnish NGO was founded last week in order to develop interstate data exchange via the X-road, which in the future will allow state institutions to share electronic data across the bay.
The estimated sum total of the implementation of the whole information society development plan from 2017 to 2021 is 218.8 million Euros, most of which will be funded from EU structural funds.