These will supplement already existing solutions, such as smart crossroads, smart street lighting and solar pavements – and Estonia’s numerous, often invisible, e-services that create the needed background for the next smart city revolution.
“The Estonian approach has been to build a streamlined government with efficiency at its core,” Minister Sutt said at the Estonian Morning at Smart 365 City Conference and Expo. “In a way, Estonia has been a pioneer for smart city solutions for the last 20 years with our revolutionary public services that connect citizens with public services.”
This approach has been developed at least since 2000 when Estonia’s innovative e-Tax system was first introduced, gradually helping to take the country to the world’s top in Tax Competitiveness. The same year, Estonia made mobile parking available to the public, being one of the country’s earliest widely known smart city solutions for everyday use. The same year, the country made headlines pioneering a system that instantly pinpoints the location of any mobile phone used to make an emergency call.
Existing e-solutions forming the stage for smart city revolution
“Thanks to e-solutions, information exchange with the state is fast and convenient, and as a result we are more effective and efficient,” Minister Sutt explained. “e-Estonia’s success lies on a clever infrastructure that has made it possible to build a trustworthy ecosystem for intelligent communication. An important part of this ecosystem is flexibility and the ability to integrate new solutions into the existing system. Today, over 99% of Estonia’s government services are accessible online, from paying taxes to checking health records and prescriptions, to even voting in elections online.”
The backbone of the system is Estonia’s digital ID service which allows citizens to securely identify themselves when interacting online. Enabling digital signatures has enabled the country to save up to 2% of its GDP annually – and to build a foundation for future services.
Internet voting, or i-Voting, is a system that allows voters to cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer anywhere in the world. Completely unrelated to the electronic voting systems used elsewhere, which involve costly and problematic machinery, the Estonian solution is simple, elegant and secure.
One of the key innovations in Estonia’s cutting-edge e-Healthcare system, e-Prescription, is a centralized paperless system for issuing and handling medical prescriptions. When a doctor prescribes medicine using the system, he or she does so electronically, with the aid of an online form. At the pharmacy, all a patient needs to do is present an ID-card. The pharmacist then retrieves the patient’s information from the system and issues the medicine.
A testbed for self-driving technologies
“Today, Estonia continues its commitment to innovation and new technologies by offering the opportunity to use Estonia as a test bed for self-steering technology,” Minister Sutt said. For example, recently, Estonian parcel delivery company Cleveron created a new self-driving vehicle that became the first driverless vehicle in Europe licensed to drive on public roads across a country.
“The government has adopted a plan to create a fleet management system, integrating such vehicles into the public transportation system with journey planning and call-to-order bus stops,” Sutt explained, adding that this certainly isn’t it.
“Numerous next-generation transport systems are in place and under development, such as autonomous fire brigades, hydrogen-fuelled self-driving buses, internet of drones and many more. These are just a few segments to mention that we are rapidly developing.”