Denmark is one of the leading digital governments in Europe, as ranked by the UN E-Government Survey which measures a government’s ability to deliver public services digitally to its citizens. Performance indicators for the E-Government Benchmark report include user centricity, transparency, cross-border mobility and key enablers.
I will break down the four indicators and explore the ways in which Denmark is strategically delivering on the United Nations E-Government framework.
User Centricity tracks how a digital service is available to (and accessed by) citizens of a given country.
- Digital Signatures: NemID, Denmark’s digital signature service provides citizens with easy and safe access to eServices. By using their digital signature (user ID and password), citizens can access their online banking, government services, and an increasing amount of private services online. NemID grew out of deep collaborations with the public and private sector and now has over 70% of the Danish population connecting to digital services safely and securely. Currently, “Approximately 4.7 million Danish citizens use NemID and more than 55 million transactions currently take place on a monthly basis.”
- NemID has evolved as a new solution known as MitID is currently being developed. This is an opportunity to build upon the framework by which millions of Danish citizens access services online. One of the central needs in the development of MitID will be to pull in better digital solutions for businesses in the private sector, so that Denmark can have a more inclusive and holistic framework for digital services that includes both the public and private sector.
Transparency indicates the level of information a country is providing to its citizens in the development of digital service delivery, the security of personal data, and the government’s openness with citizens when it comes to the research, development, and delivery of digital services.
- Denmark’s Ministry of Finance has an agency known as the Agency for Digitisation that is responsible for the development of the government’s digital policy and implementation of digital services in the public sector. Through this Agency, Denmark is actively connected to citizens with regards to the implementation of the common public sector Digital Strategy. The three objectives of this strategy are to: 1) implement public digital services that are easy to use and are of high quality 2) implement digital services that provide a solid framework for growth and 3) keep trust and security at the centre of the development of new digital solutions.
Cross-Border Mobility indicates how well EU citizens and businesses can access online services while in another EU country.
- ePassports: The Danish National Police can issue electronic passports which feature a “polycarbonate data page containing a contact-less microprocessor chip running a highly secure operating system. The chip not only features the information identity already laser-engraced on the first page, but also contains the passport holder’s digitized photograph.” Through ePassports and digital signatures known as NemID, Danish citizens that live within the Northern-Baltic region are able to digitally access Danish services while living outside of Denmark. Also known as the NOBID Project, Denmark aims to have secure borderless access for citizens not just in a Northern-Baltic context, but within an EU context as well. Having borderless access to digital services will make it much easier for Danish citizens to meaningfully engage with, and contribute to, the Danish economy while moving freely within the region.
There are key enablers that exist within this category, and indicate the health of an eGovernment: Identification (eID), electronic documents (eDocuments), Authoritative Sources, and Digital Post.
- Digital Post refers to “the possibility that governments communicate electronically-only with citizens or entrepreneurs through digital mail solutions”. The development and implementation of a digital postbox for citizens and businesses to receive information from the government has been mandatory since November 2014.
- Citizen Portal: a single entry point for citizens to access information related to the public sector, as well as eServices. This portal allows citizens to manage their communications with the public sector, and offers self-service on over 2000 government-related services and more than “4.9 million visits per month in a population of 5.5 million people.” This is also where citizens can manage their Digital Post.
- Business Portal: an eService for businesses to manage their reporting obligations with the Danish government. It relieves the confusion and inconsistency that comes with accessing government services as a business online. The Business Portal also has a dashboard which shows an overview of report deadlines and task obligations related to the public sector. For citizens looking to start a business, there is information consolidated from over 16 different authorities on the Business Portal with the most up-to-date business regulations, as well as guidance on how to start a new business in Denmark. Currently, the Business Portal contains over “1000 eForms and has over 27 million user sessions.”
Denmark’s willingness to collaboratively develop and implement digital solutions for its citizens with the private sector as well as local governments within the region has strengthened the simplicity and continuity of services. By strengthening the cohesion with the public and private sector in the development of new technologies, Denmark is able to adopt new technologies and rapidly iterate on digital solutions for its citizens.
What’s next? The government launched a National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence last year, which puts significant emphasis on an ethical and human-centered approach in the development of such technology. By placing citizens at the centre of this approach, Denmark will be able to really look at issues of openness and trust when incorporating artificial intelligence into new technological solutions moving forward.