Estonia has been included in the list as one of the most valuable success stories in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) by the World Bank Group report of 2017. The exchange of information and data between different smart devices is already part of our daily lives. Multinational companies like General Electrics – which has shifted from a traditional manufacturing company to a digital provider of software – are now considering IoT as an opportunity to upgrade their business model: thanks to GE Digital, its client companies can now monitor every aspect of a complex piece of machinery. On the other side, it is not possible to neglect the vital role of governments as partners of private companies in a long-term perspective. But what is IoT? The report defines it as a “system of connected devices that gather data (sensors), connect with the Internet or local networks, generate analytics, and adapt behavior/responses based on the data/analytics collected previously”.
One of the main outcomes the survey has shown is that the collaboration between the public and the private sectors to develop IoT systems is necessary. In the pilot success stories governments should act as “enabler” by creating innovation teams which are designed to bring relevant stakeholders and businesses together and facilitate active partnerships, offering innovative infrastructures to private sector providers, or as business partners by helping develop business models.
Estonia has already a partial success story on the matter. Despite the availability of new solutions, such as the first smart marina of Northern Europe installed at the Tallinn yacht harbor, the lack of knowledge and awareness, and infrastructure availability are seen as barriers for industry participation. In order to face these issues, Estonia is considering the idea to develop a Business X-Road, a secure software infrastructure to provide data exchange between small and medium enterprises.
But the main program for Estonia to move forward is written in the Digital 2020 agenda, built on the recommendations of the OECD report of 2011. The country sees the need to monitor current technology trends and to carry out pilot projects to keep its information system services up-to-date or replace the components of its services if it is necessary. Thanks to the completion of the next generation broadband network, in 3 years all the residents of Estonia will have access to a faster internet (at least 30 Mbit/s). Moreover, the “no legacy principle” will be introduced by law, meaning that the public sector should not adopt any kind of Information Communication Technology solution that is older than 13 years.
The energy management field is where the legal framework, regulated by the Electricity Market act of 2003, is giving its first fruits. The Estonian largest network operator Elektrilevi has developed a smart-metering and billing management software. Every user can monitor the energy consumption in real time, select different packages, and evaluate renewable energy sources. Local innovators have started to produce integrated systems for smart homes which have the goal to maximize the energy efficiency and help the users to save money.