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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Get online or else

E-revolution forces Danes online

By Ray Furlong
BBC News, Copenhagen

As Mikael Lausgard's small children play on the floor with an assortment of multi-coloured toys, he is free to stare at his laptop.

He can check where they are on the waiting list for kindergarten, or update their health insurance.

Denmark was the first country in the world to make public services available online - and Mikael is a big fan.

"It's definitely made my life easier," he says.

"I've got three big folders full of paperwork for the last five years, but now I have everything online. So I don't have to bring the folders with me if I need to speak to the insurance company, local authorities, or whatever."

Political muscle

But Denmark is now going a step further - forcing its citizens online.

Since the beginning of February, for instance, companies dealing with state institutions must submit their invoices electronically.

Around 15 million transactions that the state previously handled in paper are now managed electronically - with huge benefits.

"We have made savings in the public sector of around 100m euros (£68.5m)," says Claus Juhl, from the government's Digital Task Force.

"That is a big saving in a country of only five million people. There's a lot of talk about gaining efficiency via e-solutions, but we wanted more than talk."

But what happens to the poor, elderly and handicapped? It sounds great, but even in a small country like Denmark, there are lots of people who are not cyberliterate.

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM

12:02:00 AM

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