One of the EC’s four benchmark measures to gauge how European Governments are exploiting modern technologies is the extent to which they have deployed key information and communication technology (ICT) enablers. These enablers are one of the crucial building blocks on which eGovernment is being built across EU Member States.
So let’s start by reminding ourselves of what they are: eID, eDocuments, Authentic Sources, eSafe and Single Sign On. These are the ‘what’, but to my mind the ‘how’ is equally important. And the biggest ‘how’ is through the use of mobile solutions.
Mobility is, as we all know, a force for rapid and disruptive change. It has the potential to play a significant part in to the delivery of Europe-wide eGovernment. That’s because, with data revealing 28% of Europeans have no internet access at home, mobile communications infrastructures could open the door for Governments to provide online services they previously couldn’t deliver.
Even in those countries with readily available computer-based internet access, mobility has the potential to contribute to an improved user experience that better matches expectations of citizens and businesses today.
An important enabler of this will be the use of mobile phone signatures to foster trust and security in online transactions. Austria is a great success story in this respect. The take-up of electronic signatures in the country had been low for ten years. This was largely due to the lack of usability of signature smart-cards and the need for additional hardware and software when using PCs and Notebooks.
All that changed with Austria’s introduction of the mobile phone signature. Following its rollout in 2010 using a standard mobile phone, more than 280,000 citizens have used the mobile phone signature. This number continues to grow.
Estonia’s 1.3 million citizens recorded over 162 million digital signatures so far. The country calculated that use of mobile signatures can save each working adult a complete week per year, as well as a pile of paper the size of the Eiffel Tower each month.
It’s a success story that I believe can be emulated elsewhere across Europe.
Download the 2013 eGovernment Benchmark report ‘Delivering the European Advantage’.