Area: 45,227 km2
Internet users: 74%
Country Calling Code: 372
Currency: Eesti kroon (EEK)
Currency rate: EUR 1 = EEK 15.65
Introduction 5 e-Government and e-Parliament 12
The Whole Human Lifecycle and an e-Elections 13
e-Society 6 The e-Citizen’s Electronical ID Card 14
“Tiger Leap” 7 Digital Signature 15
e-Empowered Citizens 7 The X-road 15
E-EDUCATION Secure e- and Legal Environments 15
e-School 8 TECHNOLOGY AND
University Via Internet 8 ACCESSIBILITY
Broad-based IT-Education 8 Connections Abroad 16
E-SERVICES Connection and User Statistics 16
The State Portal eesti.ee 9 Mobile Signals and Wireless Internet 17
The e-Business Register and e-Land Register 9 Mobile Applications 17
The e-Tax Board and Income Declarations 9 EstWin 17
e-Healthcare 10 CONCLUSION 18
Nature Online 11
Historical Heritage 11
During the last 20 years, Estonia has developed cyberattack, emerging unscathed by mounting
E-SOCIETY a complete, well functioning, and secure
e-state. For citizens of Estonia, e-services have
a vigorous self-defence.
become routine: e-elections, e-taxes, e-police,
e-healthcare, e-banking, and e-school. The “e” Skype has become an international word
preﬁx for services has almost become trite in recognized everywhere. Almost 10% of
the sense that it is truly standard. Most Estonians international calling minutes throughout the
would not even consider doing things the old- entire world are made using Skype. This free
fashioned way by physically visiting an oﬃce. internet calling program was developed in
The e-state gives people freedom – to spend Estonia. Skype’s development centre is located
time in the forest, countryside, in our countless in Tallinn. Skype’s experience has been that
bogs, or even in Tallinn’s famous Old Town in Estonia it is easy to develop innovative
which rests beside the modern city. Almost any infrastructure, due to the presence of
technological competence in an environment
activity can be taken care of with a few clicks via
favourable to IT development.
These modern city oﬃce buildings are
Were the internet to have a postal address, it would most likely Skype’s Chief Evangelist and General Manager
increasingly used by IT companies which seek of the Tallinn office, Sten Tamkivi, is fond
be here in Estonia. We have reason to be proud of our highly- an innovative, highly-educated, cost-eﬀective of relating the simple equation of Skype’s
developed telecommunications network. Estonia is a place workforce. One example of many: From its original success: “Four guys in a room for six
you can take your laptop into the deepest forest and still hook development centre in Tallinn, Skype creates months and the result was one million users
up to the internet. It is no accident that Skype was born here. a large part of the software used by its loyal two months after launch.” The strength of
customer base of 500 million people. Skype — and perhaps the strength of Estonian
Toomas Hendrik Ilves
IT — is that its hallmark is simple efficiency.
President of the Republic of Estonia
Thanks to its small size, Estonia is an ideal place It is not burdened with layers of cumbersome
for testing new solutions. The implementation management or formalities. “Before I came to
Skype,” says Tamkivi, “I used to bid against a lot
and feedback processes move very quickly.
of Western European companies for jobs. They
These words of Estonia’s President Toomas Many solutions engineered in Estonia have been
would offer a three-layer project organization
Hendrik Ilves characterize well the noteworthy later exported, including e-elections, e-school,
with complicated reporting structures. We’d
achievements of Estonia in its transition from a and m-parking (the “m” means “mobile”). put four guys in a room and get the job done.”
Soviet society into one of Europe’s most modern It may also be of interest that Estonia is the only
states. nation in the world which has survived a full-on
The Whole Human
Lifecycle and an
In Estonia, it is understood that the value of
an IT solution is greater the more useful it is
in everyday life. For this reason, the state has
supported the development of e-solutions for
every stage of an individual’s life. e-solutions are
available for child subsidies, school applications,
for ordering theatre tickets, seeking employ-
ment, booking doctors’ appointments, and
applying for pensions. In the works is a plan to
enable marriage registrations via internet or, in
less unhappier situations, divorces.
The majority of forms and applications from
state institutions are available in electronic form
and may be submitted electronically. Citizens
are not required to visit state institutions, freeing
time which may be devoted to other pursuits.
Estonians are so accustomed to e-services that
they always ﬁrst ask for the institution’s web
address, instead of the telephone number.
Only if it transpires that an Estonian can’t ﬁnd
an institution’s or business’ web service link or
electronic registration system will he pick up
the telephone. Every citizen is encouraged to
oﬀer proposals for new e-services or present
questions via the e-participation portal, osale.ee.
Thanks to this process, the state’s actions serve
the actual needs of the citizens.
While the Tiger Leap program was to provide a
broadbased computer education for students
and teachers, the program Vaata Maailma (“Look
at the World”) was targeted at the society as a
whole who wished to develop along with the
information society. The program continues
to oﬀer free computer and internet training
courses throughout Estonia. Vaata Maailma’s
goal was to reduce the digital gap and bring
an active e-life to those who, because of their
age or other reasons, might have otherwise
remained behind. Thanks to the Vaata Maailma
program, IT-savvy pensioners are not a rare sight
in Estonia. Many actively handle their aﬀairs via
Initiated and supported by President Lennart
“Tiger Leap“ Meri in 1996, the Tiger Leap program gave
Estonia did not become an e-state by accident. Estonian IT a strong kickstart through the
One of the most signiﬁcant steps on this program’s ability to produce IT-savvy students
road was the 1997 decision to bring people, from every Estonian school in one fell swoop.
computers, and the e-world together at the This sparked the creation of IT jobs but also
earliest age and begin the nationwide project created a demand for e-services.
by equipping schools with the most modern The Tiger Leap program continues today, and
computers and internet connections. Thanks to the education it provides is free for students and
a program named Tiger Leap, computer skills teachers alike.
spread quickly through society. www.tiigrihype.ee
E-EDUCATION and every high school graduate may retrieve
them through the state portal eesti.ee, or may
opt to receive the results via text message to
e-School a mobile telephone. Upon completing high
school, students may submit applications for
One of the most widely used e-services is
university admittance via the state’s internet-
e-school, which serves families with school-
based application system. The system unites
age children. This service is useful to everyone:
the higher-education databases with the
students, teachers, and parents. Parents are able
students’ exam results, thus greatly simplifying
to register their children in school and monitor a
the exchange of information between the user
child’s academic performance. Teachers may plan
and the university.
lessons and enter information about subjects
covered in class. Students are able to keep an www.sais.ee
eye on lesson plans and class schedules.
e-school enables the anticipation of problems,
the source of which are often caused by lack
of information whether from the school or the Education
home. With the help of e-school, families are
A quickly-developing information society needs
constantly informed concerning matters related
specialists with broad-based knowledge and
to their children and school. For the student it is
practical experience concerning information
also easier, since dependency on paper diaries
system security. That’s why almost every
is eliminated, and lesson plans and homework
university in Estonia oﬀers a higher education in
may be accessed at any time.
some aspect of IT. Some of Estonia’s IT-degrees
are unique in the world – for example, a master’s
www.ekool.eu degree in cyberdefence born at Tallinn Technical
University and Tartu University.
University Via Internet
At the end of high school, all Estonian students www.tu.ee
are required to take state exams. Exam results www.ttu.ee
are input directly into the information system,
Register and e-Land Both registers have received extensive
international recognition, including honours at
Register the European e-Government Awards 2009, the
European Enterprise Awards, and others.
E-SERVICES The basis for a strong economy is citizens
actively engaged in business. An entrepreneur
may form a company in Estonia through a
The State Portal completely bureaucracy-free process directly The e-Tax Board and
eesti.ee at his personal computer. The e-business
portal’s record for the set-up and registration of
E-services are not useful if the citizenry is Before the e-Tax Board, every taxpayer had to
a company is 18 minutes. In most instances, it
unaware of them, or if the services are diﬃcult manually calculate his income. Now, the same
would be impossible to even carry documents
to locate. The state portal eesti.ee gathers all calculations are automatically made from
from one oﬃcial to another in 18 minutes. To
the state’s e-services in one place. Through this information collected from employers. A citizen
create a company via the internet requires
portal, the citizen may enter the e-tax system, now must only enter the e-tax system using
only an Estonian ID card, but the system also
make application to universities, check his data his ID card or internet bank, log on, check the
recognizes ID cards from Belgium, Portugal,
in the land register, and much more. A citizen information automatically assembled, make
Lithuania, and Finland, and work is currently
may download, for example, a variety of oﬃcial additions or changes (if necessary), and approve
underway to enable increasing numbers of
forms. Whether seeking a pension application the declaration. Not a single document must
other nations’ citizens to electronically register
or presenting a claim to the labour dispute be printed. And waiting in queues during oﬃce
businesses in Estonia.
commission, it’s all in one place. In addition, hours is completely eliminated—the e-Tax Board
access to all e-services are provided via internet is open around the clock every day of the week.
banking sites, which makes new services www rik ee/e-arireg ter
www rik ee/e-ariregister
w.rik.e regist r The e-tax system has proved to be Estonia’s
available to all internet banking customers. most popular e-service: in 2010, over 92% of tax
The portal also shows the citizen what declarations were ﬁled via the internet.
information the state has about him. In the The e-land register is an internet-based
interest of security, the portal is not a single, large electronic land information system, which www.emta.ee
database, but rather a secure channel to collect enables searches concerning real estate for a
information from separate oﬃcial databases nominal charge.
during a single e-service session. Currently, the
state portal uses approximately 60 databases www.rik.ee/land_register
and oﬀers 600 diﬀerent services.
e-Healthcare Additionally, victims of crimes are not required
to visit the police station. Crime reports may be
Although i not possible to heal via the
submitted electronically and signed digitally.
internet, life can be made much easier thanks
to it. Estonia uses digital prescriptions which
are not printed on paper. This is doubly useful:
a patient isn’t required to keep track of a paper
prescription, and digital prescriptions cannot be
forged or im
improperly used. Cyber Defence
The e-patie system enables people to book,
e-patient The idea for a NATO’s “The Cooperative Cyber
change or c cancel appointments with physicians, Defence Centre of Excellence” (CCD COE)
and include a feature to generate reminder
includes originated in 2004 in Estonia. Thanks to Estonian
messages s appointments are not forgotten.
so developments in the IT sphere, Estonia was
Also, the pa
patient may view additions to his ﬁle designated as the centre’s home. The centre is a
made by th physician, and doctors may access
the collection of international experts and provides
data and analysis about the patient made by other
ana NATO member states throughout the world with
physicians. the necessary expertise in the ever-changing field
The centre also serves to provide expert training
and consultation for partner nations and to
research and develop solutions to manage
e-Police risks and lessen dangers in the IT field. NATO
cyberdefence centre is Estonia’s contribution to
If you see a police car aglow from the light of its
international cybersecurity, and thanks to this
onboard computer, it’s not because the oﬃcers
Estonia’s experience and expertise in the sector is
are surﬁng the web. They’re actually working.
shared with many other nations.
The police have access to online databases (the
Schengen Zone information system) to determine
whether the individual they’ve stopped is wanted,
or whether the car he’s driving is stolen. This
enables the police to make operative decisions
without exchanging information with a dispatcher.
The only thing it makes complicated is the life of
e-Banking Nature Online
Citizens accustomed to the e-state also demand It isn’t only state bureaus which are accessible via
paperless solutions from the private sector. the web: nature is, as well. Web cameras placed
One of the best examples of this is banking. at the feeding sites of wild animals eating or at
The expression “going to the bank” has all nesting locations of birds are extremely popular.
but disappeared from the Estonian language. In addition to bringing nature closer to city
Instead, an Estonian tends to “log in” to his bank. dwellers, the cameras have helped apprehend
For ten years now, Estonians have not been “nature hooligans” who enter the forest for the
required to physically visit the bank. To most, it purpose of disturbing animals and birds.
is not a question what time the bank opens or
closes or where it’s located, since the internet www.looduskalender.ee
bank is open 24 hours a day. Currently, 98% of
banking transactions are conducted via the
internet. With every bank account comes the
option to use internet banking.
Internet banking is safe, since identiﬁcation Estonia doesn’t limit the preservation of its
is veriﬁed via an ID card or the aid of a mobile cultural heritage by simply digitally scanning
telephone-ID system, both many times more newspapers. For years now, state museums have
secure than the popular password card system, digitally registered their inventory. Also, church
which Estonia still currently has in parallel use. books dating to the 18th century have been
digitized so that everyone with an interest may
trace his genealogy up to the Middle Ages. State
e-Ticket archive materials are also available via the web,
Only tourists buy paper tickets on Estonia’s which means that serious investigative work
capital city’s public transportation system. Locals doesn’t require a trip to the capital. Thanks to
buy their bus tickets via the internet and their the internet, cultural heritage is also accessible
virtual ticket is registered in their personal ID 24 hours a day.
card, which can be checked with a reader carried
by conductors. Paper tickets have b
ct ets h been almost
completely c signed to the dustbin of history.
for sessions of government has functioned to 90 minutes, leaving the ministers much more
E-STATE since 2000, and since that time it has not been
necessary for ministers to arrive with multiple
time for the discussion of critical issues. Via the
database, decisions are recorded in writing and
e-Government and satchels stuﬀed with documents. The system may be followed in real time.
aids more than ministers, of course. Oﬃcials Much of parliament’s work has moved to
e-Parliament have access to databases in order to familiarize the internet, as well. Parliament sessions can
Estonians have always been practical people. themselves with material, as well as to oﬀer be followed in real time on the parliament’s
Why waste paper when you can go without? This their opinions before an active session. This has homepage, and stenographic minutes are
practicality is the root of the electronic aspects reduced the formal decision-making process posted the next day, at latest. The parliament’s
of Estonia’s government. An information system from the original four or ﬁve hours, to only 30 homepage and commission minutes match
exactly. Through the e-justice information change his vote in the voting commission, by
system, bills may be viewed in all their earlier voting in the traditional manner.
forms as they move through the ministries. Via In the 2009 local elections, 104,413 voters used
the internet, an interested party can very closely the e-voting system, with 15.7% of votes cast
follow the process of creating laws. via internet. The number of e-votes and voter
In Estonia, state institutions’ document registers turnout in recent elections indicates a positive
are also open. This provides transparency eﬀect of the e-voting system on general voter
in government and aids in the reduction turnout.“
of corruption, since every move leaves a
Also, Tallinn’s City Council works along the same
lines as parliament – all council sessions can be The e-Citizen’s
e Citizen s
followed online, and city legislation and other
documents are available on the homepage. The e-Gover-
The e-Governance Academy is a non-profit
information society, development- and analysis
centre, with the goal to share Estonia’s experience
e-Elections in the areas of e-government, e-democracy, and
information technology education. More than
Since 2005, everyone in Estonia has had the
700 individuals from 36 different nations have
opportunity to vote electronically via the internet.
come to learn, including representatives from
Using an ID card, a voter may cast his vote from
Canada, Japan, Georgia, India, Namibia, and
his home or even while travelling abroad. Held
a few days before the paper balloting process, Estonian experience and knowledge have
e-voting is the most comfortable way to vote. aided many nations to make their election
An ID card and PIN code establish the voter’s processes more transparent, democratic, and
identity, but the vote remains anonymous, since less encumbered by bureaucracy.
immediately after voting the vote is separated
from the voter’s connecting digital signature. In www.ega.ee
the pre-election stage, the voter is entitled to
Electronical ID Card proven security, the state is able to provide so
The key to almost every innovative e-service
The presence of a united, national electronic
in Estonia is the electronical ID card — the
identiﬁcation system facilitates an increasing
obligatory identiﬁcation document which oﬀers
number of e-services, since developers are
a wide range of uses. Inside this small document
not required to create a new authentication
is a chip, which holds information not only about
the card’s owner, but also two certiﬁcates, one
In addition to the ID card, the mobile ID is
of which is used to authenticate identity and
gaining popularity among users. The mobile ID
the second to render a digital signature. Thanks
uses the same infrastructure and is indeed an
to its security, the card is used in many web
extension of the mobile telephone world. To
environments where ID veriﬁcation is needed.
use e-services, it is no longer necessary to carry
Internet banking, participation in e-elections,
plastic cards — PIN codes can be input directly
buying public transportation tickets, and
from a mobile telephone.
much more can be accomplished using the
electronical ID card.
The ID card is secure, since PIN codes are also
required for the card’s operation. The ID card
meets the security requirements set by the
United States Department of Defence, and
similar technologies are used in banks and
other entities where identiﬁcation is of critical The Estonian company GuardTime developed
importance. the solution which ensures digital documents
In Estonia, the ID card is the key to electronic cannot be altered via special codes impossible
communication between the state and the to forge. Their solution is being used in several
citizen. State services are obtainable through international organizations.
the help of the ID card, and thanks to the card’s
Digital Signature emergence of development monopolies,
since the state is not dependent on any single
A completely paper-free work culture is
developer. This improves competition within
predicated on the ability to sign documents
the country but also guarantees the existence
digitally. This is done with the aid of the ID card.
of multiple, high-capability IT companies in the
Legally speaking, a digital signature does not
diﬀer from a signature on paper and both carry
the same judicial weight.
For example, when forming a company, all
Secure e- and Legal
documents can be signed digitally. It is not Environments
possible to copy a digital signature, and a stolen Estonia’s e-services are regulated by legislation
digital signature is invalid without the correct and are in accordance with database security
codes. regulations. Estonian laws give e-transactions
equal status with paper transactions. A digital
The X-road signature is legally identical to one on paper.
The abuse of electronic identity is punishable
The majority who use ID cards on the internet
by law. The protection of personal data in the
are unaware that the transaction is connected
fulﬁlment of doing work in the public sphere
to multiple databases — it appears as a single
and other e-government directives have been
database for the sake of user comfort. Since the
carried into Estonian law.
beginning, Estonia has had the goal of avoiding
The keeping of electronic information and
the creation of a single nationwide mammoth
its use are regulated by several diﬀerent laws.
database. In place of this, a technology called
State institutional use of databases is carefully
the X-road has been developed, which enables
monitored via a log book which records public
cross-usage of diﬀerent institutions’ databases in
oﬃcials entering the database, as well as the
a single portal.
information they accessed, which helps in the
This modular construction is eﬀective, since
evaluation of whether the search was justiﬁed.
no single critical point exists which might
compromise the entire system. A breach in one
system does not endanger others.
The X-road also helps Estonia avoid the
European and Scandinavian states, and despite
TECHNOLOGY its small size, the complete paralysis of Estonia’s
internet connection is virtually impossible due to
AND multiple duplication of access channels. Estonia
has equally fast connections to Scandinavia,
ACCESSIBILITY Russia, and the rest of Europe.
Connection and User
Estonia’s location at the crossroads of
Scandinavia, Europe, and Russia is favourable The internet is an obvious tool that every
not only logistically, but also when it comes Estonian recognises. Of the population aged 16-
to information technology. Estonian service 74, a full 74% take advantage of it, and 63% of
providers are directly connected to many Estonian homes have connections. Only 2% of
internet users use dial-up connections. Internet
is available in all schools and libraries. 97% of
businesses use computers on a daily basis, and
99% of these use the internet. 66% of businesses
have a homepage. 40% of businesses choose to
receive e-invoices, and 30% of businesses issue
them. The GPS-based digital mapping system produced
In Estonia, there is not a signiﬁcant diﬀerence in by the company Regio is in use in both western
internet users’ sex, education, place of dwelling. and eastern Europe. Services provided under the
Whether in the countryside or city, two-thirds name Reach-U are used by many nation’s mobile
of men and women use the internet. More
than 60% of new companies are created via the
e-business register on the internet.
Mobile Signals and Use of electronic services does not always require
Wireless Internet a computer. A mobile telephone often suﬃces.
M-parking is popular, and registration and
Estonia is completely covered by three mobile payment may be done via a mobile telephone.
network service providers. All the operators The m-ticket service enables the purchase
oﬀer internet connections, and in larger towns of tickets on public transport without cash.
and cities at least a 3G connection is available. Through a mobile phone it’s possible to buy
Additionally, internet via radio frequencies is theatre tickets and pay at the grocery store.
available throughout the country. Of Estonia’s m-services developed in Estonia have been
45,000 square kilometres, there are more than successfully applied in other countries, as well.
1,140 publicly registered wireless internet
points, most of which are available without cost.
It is diﬃcult to ﬁnd a cafe or restaurant without EstWin
free, wireless internet, and the majority of local The state-funded development project EstWin’s
governments are also covered by wireless. It’s
g goal is to build a new generation broadband
diﬃcult to ﬁnd a place in Estonia where the
cult ﬁnd placp network which would reach every Estonian
internet does not reach. Even under the most
inter rnet d Eve un
E en resident by the year 2015 with connection
extreme circumstances it’s only a few hundred
ex reme c
xtre o speeds up to 100Mbit/s.
metres to the nearest signa
risk patients are ﬁtted with online-transmitters,
CONCLUSION where doctors automatically receive bulletins
about their patients’ well being, omitting the
Many important and fundamental innovations
imp need for patients to spend a day queuing at the
in e-Estonia have already been accomplished, clinic? Perhaps Estonia could be the ﬁrst nation in
but easin up after establishing momentum is
easing the world to rid itself of thousands of kilograms of
out of the question. In an information society, textbooks, and replace them with a lightweight
everything changes so quickly that a bystander e-reader such as an Apple iPad, or one of its
is quickly trailing in the dust. Signiﬁcant projects successors?
continue, including EstWin, a commitment to This is all in the future, and Estonia intends to be
provide e every person and every institution in at the vanguard of developments in every case.
the count with an internet connection of 100
country It is Estonia’s policy to continue as an innovative
Mbit/s by the year 2015. Also in the works is the and fast-developing nation. Businesses, whose
application of our digital healthcare system. goal is to ﬁnd new, innovative solutions and new
And there is the daily work of keeping the existing approaches to old problems, will ﬁnd Estonia
system o e-services up-to-date, simplifying it,
of an attractive place. Like Skype Estonia’s chief
and makin it increasingly user-friendly.
making Sten Tamkivi has said, we already possess the
Now is the time to raise the important question – technological competence and IT-favourable
what is the role of the state and local governments environment, and our only intention is to improve
in Estonia’s e-universe? Can and should we change them.
the state’s administrative system as a whole, in Why not come to Estonia and, together with
order to take the e-state to a new level? us, bring progressive plans to fruition. We oﬀer
Or how far, in general, should we allow e-features ideas, experience, a highly-educated, ambitious
to enter our lives? Should every freezer be workforce, and a government and society which
equipped with a device that sends the owner a embrace innovation at every level.
text message when the food’s “best by” date has
expired? Or should we attach a transmitter to
Welcome to e Estonia!
every Estonian tree and animal to oﬀer the world’s
scientists a unique opportunity to monitor via Estonian Association of Information Techno-
internet the condition of one country’s natural logy and Telecommunications
environment? Or should Estonia be the ﬁrst www.itl.ee
nation in the world where pensioners and high-