Estonia is proof of what happens when a nation takes control of its destiny and embraces the future. Just over 30 years ago Estonia freed itself from a broken Soviet Union to finally realise its true potential. This incredible wee nation of just over 1 million people committed to a new adventure in digital and has never looked back. Estonia is now right up there with its Scandinavian neighbours as amongst the very top places to work and live in the world.
We trace the country’s history, difficult transition to full nationhood and focus on how its highly advanced IT savvy citizens are taking on the global Covid19 pandemic – a crisis Estonia is better placed than many to deal with – an example we can all learn from.
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RAYMOND BRECKON – CEO of Guaana and Englishman in Estonia
‘The only difference Scotland is 3D and Estonia is flat – apart from that it’s the same.There isn’t anything left that you can’t do digitally but it’s still ahead of the clumsy UK version of it.’
KAREN BURNS – CEO Visory AI, Glasgow University Graduate and married to a Scot
‘We’re such a small country that decisions can be made in an agile way so really quickly decisions are implemented in quite a fast way. Estonia is such a digitised country. The only thing you can’t do online is buy a house or get married.’
LINNAR VIIK – One of Estonia’s original Digital Pioneers and advisor to the world on Digital Governance
‘All the public services are accessible via internet. I think we’re the the only country in Europe right now where the court services are available on internet. If you want to create a new company it still just takes 10 minutes. The government has even stretched further with digital services with sick leave and you don’t even need to visit a doctor. Only thanks to that digital investment we have made, we are surviving this crisis and we don’t lose access to the core services and capturing data from the digital channels is also something that gives the opportunity to make decisions based on data.’
PETER FERRY – Wallet Services and Honorary Consul to Estonia
‘The sense of common purpose and the willingness to try new things and perhaps even the necessity of trying new things was really the thing that sparked my imagination [about Estonia]. It became necessary to look solutions to the problems they had with the assets and capital they had available. The upshot of that is that it’s become the very streamlined and easy to live in state that it is today.’
DOUGLAS CHAPMAN MP – Scottish National Party
‘I was returning from Stockholm on a parliamentary business trip in early March just as the COVID-19 virus was taking a serious hold in Europe. On the flight back I realised I had some really good contacts across the Scandinavian countries and into the Baltic states so I thought it might be a good idea to explore some of the issues around the pandemic situation with those folk I knew in different countries.’
The idea is to reach out to other countries across the world, to understand how they are coping with the current pandemic and to consider the different approaches each country is taking towards recovery. The idea was worked up by those involved following a chance business meeting between Dunfermline and West Fife MP, Douglas Chapman and Ewan Hunter who works closely with Phantom Power Films and I had been aware of their excellent film work.’
EWAN HUNTER – Presenter @EwanHunter
We’ve had an incredible response from people across the world. From Estonia to Iceland, the Faroe Islands to New Zealand, from Vietnam and Japan to Denmark, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and the USA, people have loved the idea that we can talk to each other, learn from each other and take some positives from this awful situation.
It’s also been fascinating to hear the stories of how different countries have responded and noteable that many of the smaller, more agile nations seem to have had significantly more positive outcomes. Whilst there is a long way to go, there may well be real lessons for a future Scotland….but that is probably a whole new series!’