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Estonia's wired world

Looking for the most wirelessly hip, jacked in, "efficient" government around? Try Estonia, says the Economist. If only Lenin had known about Wi-Fi ...
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Despite decades of repressive Soviet government and moribund bureaucracy, Estonia has arrived as the most wired country in the Balkans and Europe, reports the Economist. Tallinn, Estonia's capital has embraced the wireless world of broadband to connect with government agencies, send a text message to pay a parket ticket (goes right on the phone bill), look up an elected official's cellphone number (That's right. They post their cellphone numbers right there for all to see).

The letter in the Economist reports,

"Tallinn is the home of Skype, the free-to-use internet telephony system recently bought by Ebay. Skype's R&D headquarters is in a dowdy Soviet-era office block that is certainly no tourist sight. But the Skyplionaires’ spending power has stoked the city’s buzzing nightlife and real-estate boom. Tallinn is a city where geekdom is glamorous. Estonians want their country to be famous, and along with Arvo Pärt’s classical music, the best chance of world recognition is their programming talent.

In Tallinn it’s tired to be merely wired: the future is wireless. Take parking, for example. Other countries faff about with meters, tickets, and permits. In Tallinn, it takes a couple of seconds to send a text message with the number of your car and its location, and that’s it; the cost of your parking goes on your phone bill. Enforcement is effective; nobody bothers to cheat. Alternatively, ask a friend or colleague to show you the way the system of smart ID cards works: log in to the national computer system and you can handle most transactions with the government online. Where other countries queue, Estonia clicks. That, plus a flat tax, mean that annual tax returns, for example, take just a few minutes’ work."


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