But in the Dutch territory live 17 million of people and in the territory of the centuries-old Baltic Republic only live 1,3 million. In the short way between railway station and Maris Joona’s home (her neighbour), Erica Ader lists all the services owned by this population of just 715 people: school, church, supermarket, gas station, library….
“The last one is important, because it helps many older people, those who are in trouble with online procedures”, she explains. 88% of Estonian people search the Internet daily and 87% of people between 16 and 74 years old connect to Government portal. The digital gap has been exceeded. And, in the plans of the President Kersti Kaljulaid – the first woman who holds this position and since she is 46 years old, also the youngest – it means also to leave behind the gap, that traditionally separates countryside from city. It is considered that in twenty years remote work allow people not to move to an urban centre for work purposes. And for Estonian people this is very attractive. “This place can be awfully quiet, but it is also a way of life. We are people who like very much to live closely with nature”. Interpreter and translator – Ader speaks, apart from Estonian, Russian, English and Finnish – she is close to retirement and only teaches language classes on Skype.
Joona, who works in the Marketing Department of the Tallin Tourist Office is on maternity leave and her home smells like delicious cinnamon buns. They were both born here and they went away only to study at the University. They knew exactly that convenience was not a sufficient reason to put down root in the city. And now, with internet always running and with telework that is making its way, the country discomforts are less. “Maybe it is for this reason that many people of my generation decide to come back to their home countries”, said Joona.
The geographical freedom is another revolutionary concept typical of Estonian. If for many kinds of job you will only need a broadband, why should you not live in a country that for 51% is completely forested rather than in a warm town on the sides of Mediterranean?
But this is an objective that they propose for a distant future. “In the short term”, repeats Siim Sikkut, Responsible for Information of the Estonian Government, “we are committed to simplify the difficulties among Administration, citizens and entrepreneurs. At present, the majority of these interactions take place online: you enter into a platform, insert some data and that’s it. But our intention is to automate and bring together all these procedures and also be more predictive. For example: if a company allows that our fiscal agency has access to its accounting, we should never ask for its corresponding tax declarations. We would get information from the original source and a worker should not insert his/her data into our system. Or when a baby is born: his/her parents do not need to go into five different sites in our portal, we could simply send them a mail writing: “Congratulations and many thanks for the new little citizen! We know that your baby is born, because the Hospital inserted his/her name in the Population Register. Now let’s complete the following procedures”. In this way we would solve everything at once. Now we aim for it and, but all this requires a massive transformation in the mode of operation of an Administration”.
Estonian comes fourth as regards the less populous countries in the world – and it is only exceeded by Malta, Luxemburg and Cyprus. And its population is down: at least the physical one, because the digital one keeps growing!