Magazine article Information Management

Estonia Embraces Cyberspace

Magazine article Information Management

Estonia Embraces Cyberspace

Article excerpt

Estonia, a former Soviet republic, may be on its way to becoming a paperless society - so much so that some have dubbed it "E-Stonia."

The government saves as much as $200,000 in paper and copying costs annually by sending documents among ministries electronically, Arvo Ott, head of the Informatics Department of the Economics Ministry, told USA Today.

Cabinet business takes place online. Leaders sit in front of computers corresponding with colleagues in a room that overlooks the cobblestone streets of 14th-century Tallinn. Traveling ministers log on from abroad.

To debate a proposal or section of a pending bill, ministers simply type in their arguments for colleagues to read online. When the cabinet approves legislation, the decision is posted almost instantly on Estonia's government Web site. If no one is opposed, the prime minister calls for unanimous consent and moves on. Officials say cabinet meetings that used to last between four and 12 hours now take between 10 minutes and 1 hour.

Estonia's financial industry has embraced technology as well. Six years ago, not one resident banked online. Today, half of the country's 1.4 million citizens do so. Nearly all businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to utilities, interact with banks in Cyberspace. Scores of brick-and-mortar bank branches have dosed, forsaken by cyber-sawy Estonians.

Remarkably, the Balkan nation's technology transformation has only occurred in the past few years. …

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