Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, we at the e-Estonia Briefing Centre had to, well, become even more “e”! One way in which we did that was to create a new Digital Briefing Centre series, where we interview many of the key players that put e-Estonia on the map – ranging from e-health and e-governance to e-education. Moderating these talks in front of a live albeit digital audience has been both fun and educational for me and I sincerely hope that you, the audience, feel the same way. In this Speakers’ Corner article, I want to talk a bit more about my initial takeaways after the first few live discussions and I’d be curious to hear about your thoughts as well!
Say it with me: “Public-private partnerships can work!”
It truly doesn’t matter whether you watch my chat with Indrek Õnnik about e-governance or the discussion I had with Priit Tohver about the future of e-health (although I suggest you check out all of them!) – independently of one another, all participants thus far have touted the strong collaboration between government authorities and private companies. This cooperation, however, also requires all parties involved to adjust their mindset a bit: public entities should have learned by now that choosing the cheapest offer on the table will rarely be a wise investment of taxpayers’ money, while companies have to offer more transparent solutions because all stakeholders must be able to trust these services.
Digital services are way past being mere nice-to-haves
The truth of the matter is, young professionals around the world are fed up with the archaic structures put in place decades if not centuries before they were born. The private sector has shown us that digital solutions have the power to create new value chains and improve our living standards quite significantly – and it is unacceptable to us that governments around the world have bungled their response to this technological tide for the last couple of decades. These shortcomings are annoying on a daily basis, but they become particularly poignant in times of crisis such as, oh I don’t know, right now. The simple truth is this: Covid-19 has not changed the nature of my interaction with the Estonian government one bit – it’s all been online for years.
I don’t seem to be the only one enjoying these conversations
It’s also been great to see the interaction with our live audience, particularly with regards to our customary 20-minute Q&A session. Our audience engaged with us, raising a wide range of technical, ethical and legal questions about digital solutions in Estonia at a mean rate of more than 20 valuable questions per session. On average, we’ve had more than 2400 views per live talk, which I think is a positive signal, bearing in mind that we’re talking about rather serious topics in an environment saturated with online content. Speaking of the audience, to no-one’s surprise most viewers were between 25 and 44 years old. But there were also some unexpected things; first, I was delighted to see that our topics were interesting to a gender-balanced audience; second, the top three countries varied a lot – people from Japan, India and Canada were particularly interested in e-education, while e-health struck more of a chord with Latvians, Brits and Finns.
Stay tuned for more!
Last but not least, it would be remiss of me not to mention that there are still many topics for us to cover. This Wednesday, I will have the distinct pleasure of talking to Linnar Viik who is one of the masterminds behind e-Estonia’s road to success – we will be talking about how Estonia became the digital powerhouse that it is today and I am hopeful that he will share some of his personal memories from those fateful years when tough decisions had to be made. In the coming weeks, we will also talk about digital service design and change management in times of crisis, among other things. I’m looking forward to having thought-provoking conversations and challenging questions from you, the audience. See you soon!
speaker-analyst at e-estonia briefing centre