Denmark leads the world in digital government

By Chia Jie Lin

The country ranks highest in e-government development and e-participation efforts in latest United Nations global rankings.

Image: Hannes Flo/Flickr - CC BY 2.0

Denmark is now the world’s best in e-government initiatives, followed by Australia and Korea, the 2018 United Nations (UN) e-government survey reported.

The country ranked first in its provision of online services, according to the assessment by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The country has also ranked first for citizens’ participation in government decisions and policy making.

According to the survey, Denmark’s success comes from the implementation of its five-year Digital Strategy, as it continues to evolve “towards digital public administration, communication and e-services”.

One key innovation from the country is its “‘digital first’ approach where electronic interaction is now legally mandatory,” the UN survey reported. The country has also created a “user-friendly and simple digital sector.”

Citizens use their digital IDs - NemID - to interact with the government, banks and private sector across a wide range of services. Citizens can make bank transactions, retrieve tax returns from a government portal, and even schedule appointments with their hairdressers, all by simply logging in with their IDs.

Denmark is looking into personalised digital services, by providing targeted content for citizens on their NemID portals. For example, citizens at the brink of retirement will be presented with retirement planning options when they log into their portals, according to Government Europa.

The country has also launched Digital Post, a government-provided digital letter box where citizens receive communications from the state. Today, over 90% of citizens aged 15 and above have their personal digital postboxes, and use it to communicate with public agencies - cutting costs across the whole public sector.

It is also coming up with “telemedicine solutions for people with chronic disorders”, the UN report noted. Patients no longer need to stay in hospitals, but instead, can recuperate in their homes while being monitored by healthcare professionals via video conferences.

Meanwhile, the government also helps citizens who cannot access digital services, so that they are not excluded by the switch to digital platforms. Officials have reached out in person to “groups that have difficulties using digital communications, some of them being elderly organisations,” said Thomas Frandzen, special advisor to Denmark’s Agency for Digitisation at a conference, according to Diginomica. “In Denmark, e-participation is part of the country’s digital strategy,” the UN survey noted.

Australia comes in at a close second, leading the chart in human capital development and online services. The Australian Government has created a Digital Transformation Agency, which serves as a central repository for open government data that improves public services.

Any new or redeveloping public-facing services must also meet the Australian Digital Service Standard that contains a criteria which “ensures the proposed service is accessible to all users, regardless of their ability and environment,” the survey reported.

South Korea has ranked third, having performed well in online service and technology infrastructure, and is particularly known for improving public participation in government.

For instance, Chungcheongnam-do province has made all tax data available to its residents. The province has improved the transparency of government budgets by allowing citizens to hold the local government accountable in events of tax misuse. This “full digital disclosure of tax use history to residents in real time” has “secured transparency through active participation of residents and fiscal innovation”, the UN said.

In the past decade, South Korea has also trained over 4820 public officials from other countries.

Denmark’s Minister of Public Sector Innovation, Sophie Løhde, will give a keynote presentation at Innovation Labs World on 25 September. Register here to learn from the best in the world.