This article is part 1 to Digital Technologies in the Public Sector — Integrating Digital Transformation.
The current states of affairs in the world’s digital sector is made up of three central variables: Information and communications technology (ICT). ICTs are the set of tools, supports, channels developed and supported by technologies (telecommunications, information technology, programs, computers and the Internet). ICTs allow the acquisition, production, storage, treatment, communication, recording and presentation of information, in the form of voice, images and data, contained in signals of an acoustic, optical or electromagnetic nature in order to improve people’s quality of life.
The digital sector encompasses changes in the cultural and economic structures of society because it involves activities such as education, health, government, transport, tourism, environment, agriculture, manufacturing, communications, information media, finance, laws, culture and fundamental aspects of globalization. This has also been affected by the economic recessions product of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to its coverage, the digital sector is present, in some way, in the private business context to optimize operations, know the users of its products and give sustainability to its business, while in state agencies we can mention some examples where it is they use digital tools such as financial administration, customs and tax management.
Countries that have developed the digital sector in government entities have leveraged their society and government, among the success stories we can find are Estonia and South Korea.
Estonia is a successful case of the use of ICT within the government and public sector companies. By 1991, after the nation was hit economically after the Soviet collapse, it was in a position to start from scratch. Thus, the government decided to invest most of its resources in the development of the technological infrastructure. Mart Laar, the first former post-Soviet prime minister, argued that he knew nothing about computers, but believed they needed to start with the latest technology; Thus, the nation’s progress was given by a strong commitment to ICTs on the part of the prime minister and other high government officials. Until then, no Estonian had had a checkbook, the government chose to avoid pen and paper and issued bank cards. It was a money saver, but it had another benefit: it pushed for fast interconnection and this led to the privatization of the telecommunications industry.
The nation’s progress was given by a strong commitment to ICTs on the part of the prime minister and other high government officials.
The same Estonian government recruited Kaidi Ruusalepp, then a 20-year-old lawyer, whose first task was to create a law for digital signatures in 2000. That same year, Estonia became the first country in the world to declare access to Internet as a basic human right and passed a law that gave value to digital signatures. Thus, the Estonian citizen is digital from his/her birth and is assigned a unique 11-digit digital identifier, which is vital to operate almost all aspects of that person’s life. From their childhood, Estonian children learn programming and information technology tools. Equally, there is a broad access to computers and the internet in order to increase the capacity of the elderly and rural inhabitants. The boost that the government gave to education and to improve people’s digital skills, gave rise to a generation of technologists and aspiring entrepreneurs, such as the creators of the video calling platform Skype or as the case of Martin Ruubel, creator of the blockchain system, which is the storage of data in an encrypted way in several different servers.
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