This week I spent a few days visiting Estonia with Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Liam Maxwell, the new Deputy CIO and colleagues with Cyber Security responsibilities. We came to see how a small country of 1.3 million has developed a culture and system of Governance and public service provision using the Internet and transparency as core principles.
It was hugely impressive. In two days we saw a vibrant technology economy, including giants like Skype and dozens of start-ups. We met with the President, Toomas Ilves and Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip, who both put the achievements of recent years in context of Estonia’s history, both with Russian occupation and relationships with Britain. We explored how dozens of Government services are delivered by small teams, focussed on user needs. We saw how Estonia had devised an Identity system which works for them, and we left with a keen understanding of how all this underpins the culture and economic growth.
If you want to know more, there are plenty of available details about Estonia. The Guardian recently featured the country as part of its Internet week.
Whilst we met dozens of people at breakneck speed, many of whom we hope to see in the UK soon, over the next week I will be explaining the wider points we have uncovered which reflect directly on our challenge to make public services in the UK digital by default, and how the Estonian experience links to our core principles.
You can read the full text of Francis Maude’s speech to the International Centre for Defence Studies in Estonia on the Cabinet Office site here.
You can read more about who we visited via this Tripline map: