The Estonian pavilion at COMEX 2012 shows how a successful e-society works. The country, with a population of 1.3 million, has a high penetration in the digital world. Currently, about 3/4 of the population have a computer at home and 68% of homes have broadband connection. The e-society of Estonia offers a wide range of e-services. The lives of regular citizens, entrepreneurs, and politicians in Estonia have been made easier and convenient by implementing e-services in almost every sector in the country.
The purpose of the Estonian booth at COMEX 2012 is to showcase the nation’s ICT solutions and to illustrate their usage possibilities, both in private and public sector, and to provide Omani visitors with examples of what they are and how they work. Some examples of the services in Estonia were exhibited at the COMEX 2012.
Estonia has the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world. Much more than a legal picture ID, this mandatory national card (from age 15 onwards) serves as a digital access card for every secure e-service in Estonia. The chip on the card carries embedded files which enable it to be used as definitive proof of ID in an electronic environment. In 2011 nearly 90% of the Estonian residents carried the electronic ID card.
The state’s e-services portal website acts as a one-stop-shop for the hundreds of e-services offered by the various government institutions. Interesting to note is that in Estonia it is possible to establish business entity within twenty minutes via internet. As well, in e-Estonia, the i-voting system allows citizens to vote by simply using an internet connected computer, from anywhere around the world. The system is simple, elegant and secure. In 2005, Estonia was the first country in the world to i-voting in parliamentary election. In 2011, 24.3% of the voters used the i-voting system.
The way students, teachers and parents interact has been revolutionized by the e-schools in Estonia. Teachers use an e-school system to enter grades, attendance, homework assignments and even evaluate student behaviour. Students can read their own grades and keep track of their homework on a daily basis. They can also keep their best work in personal e-portfolios. Parents can also use the e-school system to stay closely involved their children’s education. They can keep track of their children’s homework, assignments, grades, and teachers’ notes, as well as communicate directly with the teachers via the system.
Mobile Parking (m-Parking) is another convenient system that lets drivers pay for their city parking using their mobile phones. On parking, the driver sends an SMS with the parking zone’s code to the system’s operator or uses a special application on his phone. At the end of the month, the cost of parking is added to the driver’s mobile phone bill. These are just a few of the services that Estonians take advantage of on a regular basis and, e-services for which Oman can aspire to adopt.